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North's Thomas goes from 'role model' to AFL exile

Oliver Caffrey -

Tarryn Thomas once spoke passionately of being a role model.

Standing proudly in front of a large mural of himself, the former No.8 draft pick seemed to be at the forefront of North Melbourne's rebuild and a player long-suffering Kangaroos supporters could embrace, on and off the field.

"My culture is important to me - as is my family and my other family at North Melbourne," Thomas said in November 2020.

"I want to be a role model for young Indigenous kids"

The mural, featuring the words 'Treaty' and 'Respect', was of Thomas taking a knee for Black Lives Matter when the global movement briefly became part of AFL games during the COVID-affected 2020 season.

Three years later, Thomas' once-promising AFL career is all but over after he was this week sacked by North Melbourne for threatening a woman and other misconduct.

The 23-year-old was investigated by the AFL's integrity unit after the latest in a series of allegations.

Even before the Kangaroos ran out of patience with the talented but troubled utility last Thursday, the street art at Our Community House in North Melbourne had been removed.

Initial plans were for the striking mural, located along busy Curzon Street, to only stay up for one year after it was unveiled in November 2020.

But as the referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament drew nearer, the decision was made to keep the mural on the outside of the building.

The artwork remained up until late last year, at least, after the referendum was held on October 14.

Management say they had planned for the entire building to be repainted and that coincided with the art of Thomas making way.

North will continue to make available medical and mental health support to Thomas, as will the AFL Players Association.

Kangaroos president Sonja Hood praised the woman at the centre of the latest allegations for "her bravery and the dignity with which she has handled herself".

"I'm feeling a range of emotions - frustration, anger, disappointment - but overall, sadness," Hood wrote in a letter to members.

If Thomas is to add to his 69 AFL games, he must undertake - and pay for - another behavioural change program.

That program would need to be approved by the AFL, which would need assurances of Thomas's progress before clearing any return to the sport.

Oliver Caffrey - AAP


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