AFL: Alastair Clarkson ‘excited’ by prospect of Tarryn Thomas return

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Alastair Clarkson says he expects disgraced former North Melbourne player Tarryn Thomas to receive a lifeline from another club when his AFL suspension expires.

The Kangaroos coach said he would be “delighted” if Thomas rehabilitated himself to the point he could be recruited by another team after he was sacked from the club following repeated incidences of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said the Cats were a “long way” off looking at Thomas but would be “open-minded” about picking up the 24-year-old.

“I think it is a good policy to be open-minded,” Scott said when asked about Thomas on Thursday.

“We believe in second chances – that doesn’t mean that you can just roll in and do whatever you want.

“But I think, in principle, the idea of not getting to ‘no’ too quickly is a good one.”

Clarkson was cagey when asked if it was too premature for rival clubs to consider signing Thomas only a third of the way through his 18-week suspension for “conduct unbecoming”.

“Once again, it’s a question for the AFL rather than us, so best I don’t add anything more to that,” Clarkson said.

“We tried our best to make it work – it didn’t work for a whole heap of reasons. Whatever happens from here is up to Tarryn and whatever footy club wants to take him on-board and give him that opportunity.”

The Kangaroos were allowed to cut ties with Thomas when the AFL handed down its penalty following an integrity unit investigation that found he had engaged “in multiple acts of misconduct”, including threatening a woman via direct message multiple times.

Club president Sonja Hood said he was “out of chances” after a series of off-field transgressions in 2022 and 2023.

Clarkson said he wouldn’t be surprised if Thomas returned to the AFL after his suspension and said he “never doubted” Thomas was capable of undergoing the change required to come back.

The AFL said Thomas could only return after his ban if he undertook a league-approved behavioural change program paid for by him.

“No, not at all (would I be surprised). Tarryn and the AFL and his management need to work through whatever protocols he needs to go through for him to become available to play AFL footy,” Clarkson said.

“But it was never in any doubt for me that was going to be something he’d be able to achieve.

“We’re excited if he gets that opportunity, whether it’s Geelong or any other club.

“The whole goal of this is to try and give all men and women right across the country, they’ve got a passion to play our game, how can we assist with giving them that opportunity? “If he can do the things necessary to get himself right to put himself in that space again, then we’re delighted he’s going to get the chance.”

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