Within eight hours, the script for Tarryn Thomas was dramatically turned. And one phone call changed everything for North Melbourne.
It was the eight-hour window that gave Tarryn Thomas the North Melbourne backflip.
Just after 1pm on Wednesday – just hours after Thomas opened the Arden Street workout following allegations of threatening behavior by several women, revealed exclusively in the Herald Sun – North Melbourne President Dr. Sonja Hood said the club would keep the 22-year-old in its AFL program as it appeared to address his “behavioural issues”.
By 9 p.m. that evening, the script had been dramatically flipped.
A brief, unsigned club statement stated that Thomas would take a break from the game after all.
What transpired over the course of Wednesday, and particularly between the Kangaroos’ first and second statements, turned out to be a multitude of meetings and talks that have now put the North Melbourne star’s AFL career on hold indefinitely.
Ultimately, the trigger for the reversal was a call to the Herald Sun from a woman detailing further allegations of “abusive and manipulative behavior” by Thomas late last year.
She had read the Herald Sun’s front page report and wanted to speak to the AFL.
By this point, Thomas had completed a two-hour training session, having turned up on Arden Street just after 7am in what may have been an effort to avoid the waiting media.
As Thomas trained that morning, the Kangaroos hierarchy met to discuss how they would respond to allegations made by several women in Wednesday’s Herald Sun, leading to a separate charge of threatening to disseminate a intimate picture, which was collected in mid-January.
Shortly after the training, Dr. Hood’s letter to members stressing that North Melbourne “takes allegations of threats of violence against women extremely seriously.”
However, she said the club will continue to support and coach Thomas and said that was the advice the AFL gave them after the initial allegation.
But even as Dr. Hood’s letter to members was released, a new allegation was about to be made.
Early Wednesday afternoon, AFL headquarters was called on behalf of the woman making the recent allegation of “abusive and manipulative conduct.”
A contact number was provided for the AFL Integrity Unit, which the woman then called.
This led to a late-afternoon call from the league in North Melbourne that changed everything.
This was the catalyst for a series of talks between the AFL and the Kangaroos and prompted the decision to give Thomas an indefinite break from football.
The Herald Sun does not imply that he is guilty of the allegations, only that they were made.
Both club and league realized there was no alternative but to have him resign until the allegations could be properly investigated, as more could follow.
Kangaroos general manager of football Todd Viney went to Thomas’s home early that evening to brief him on upcoming events and the club had held extensive discussions with Thomas’s manager Ben Williams and the AFL Players Association.
A second statement from the club was released just after 9pm, explaining that Thomas had taken his time with the game and stressing he would cooperate with any investigation into the allegations.
It was a decision that came 24 hours late.
The club should have made that decision following reports from several women by the Herald Sun, published online late Tuesday night.
Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence of allegations, but the seriousness of the allegations meant he should not have trained on Wednesday.
The club would also have Dr. Hood or the name of the club’s new CEO, Jen Watt, on the second statement.
It’s hard to believe that exactly one year has passed this week since Thomas signed a new two-year deal that should see him grow from a promising young footballer into one of the club’s most important players
Now, 12 months later, his immediate future remains uncertain as the AFL prepares to investigate the numerous allegations about his off-field behavior.
Roos vows to stand by Thomas when he leaves the club
The AFL and North Melbourne on Wednesday rolled back plans to keep star Tarryn Thomas at the club amid mounting allegations of harassment and intimidation.
After another woman made claims against Thomas on Wednesday afternoon, the league and North Melbourne announced Thomas would be taking time off from the game
By late Wednesday night, North Melbourne had insisted Tarryn Thomas would remain in the club’s program despite the growing allegations surrounding him.
Previously, President Dr. Sonja Hood informed members that Thomas was receiving training for his “behavioural issues” and would fully cooperate with any further investigation.
Just hours after the Herald Sun revealed that several AFL women had made detailed allegations about Thomas, the 22-year-old was back at the Arden Street practice track and taking part in a two-hour session.
In a letter to members, Dr. Hood said the allegations against Thomas were “serious and confronting,” and said, “We take any allegation of threats of violence against women extremely seriously.”
But dr Hood said the club will support Thomas if he conducts a “respectful relationship education” program.
“The club were aware of the formal allegations made against Tarryn in 2022 which were being investigated by the AFL’s integrity unit. Tarryn and the club have fully cooperated with this investigation,” said Dr. Hood.
“The AFL’s advice following these incidents was that Tarryn should receive education and training to deal with his behavioral issues.
“The club has since built a significant and multifaceted program that includes respectful relationship education, work with psychologists, mentoring, peer support and outreach for Tarryn to help him meet the values and expectations of the North Melbourne community. “
The club declined to comment further on the matter pending the outcome of Thomas’s latest charge of threatening to release an intimate image.
“It is also important to recognize that Tarryn is still facing a court matter and as such we will not be commenting on this particular case,” said Dr. Hood.
“Pending further investigation, the club will await the outcome of the court case before confirming our course of action.
“Finally, I know this topic is challenging and confronting, and the club recognizes the impact people across the community will feel from reading the media.
“We are committed to supporting our people during this time and I would like to reiterate that our entire club understands the importance of this matter.”
DID THOMAS TRY TO AVOID THE CAMERAS?
Thomas arrived at the club’s Arden Street headquarters just after 7 a.m. to avoid TV cameras.
The 22-year-old declined to comment on the allegations as he was photographed by the Herald Sun when he arrived at the club, nor when he walked onto the practice track just over two hours later.
He took part in the spirited session alongside his teammates
He is yet to face disciplinary action from the AFL or his club.
The Herald Sun does not claim that the allegations against Thomas are true.
Thomas was charged earlier this month with threatening to release an intimate picture after a three-month investigation.
Originally released as Inside North Melbourne’s backflip about Tarryn Thomas
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