Tanking talk a plea for help: Paul Roos

BY Paul Roos – August 4, 2012

FRIENDS and family told me how shocked I looked during On the Couch on Monday night.

I wasn’t so much shocked because I didn’t know what Melbourne was trying to achieve by gaining lower draft picks at that time, I was amazed at the frankness of a player who was involved in the controversy.

I had to interject and ask Brock McLean to clarify exactly what he meant.

In the excitement of the interview, I was amazed that we had a player sitting there, openly discussing the Demons and their desires not to win.

Brock’s follow-up comment that “blind Freddy” could see what they were doing confirmed to the football world what we already knew.

The word “tanking” has blurred the issue from day one because it has implied that players have tried to throw games by not trying.

This was and will never be the case. You will never have a group of players that enters the field with any other aim but to win the game.

Tanking is not a player issue, it is a club issue.

While the incentive for losing for bottom clubs is greater than the incentive for winning, teams will continue to set their sides up for failure.

Brock gave us an insight into how difficult it was for Melbourne’s coach at the time, Dean Bailey.

Coaches by nature are super-competitive and the thought of winning not being the No.1 priority goes against their natural instincts.

I doubt we will ever know where the directive came from at the Melbourne Football Club. But clearly, as we found out on Monday night, playing for draft picks did exist in the AFL. Frankly, the investigation by the AFL is irrelevant.

And I would suggest that 80-90 per cent of AFL followers would be — as I was on Monday night — shocked by the honesty but relieved that someone had finally admitted what went on.

If we needed further confirmation, we got it when Paul Gardner, former Melbourne president, admitted to leaving a game early because he knew what the team was trying to do.

Why do most coaches want the system changed? Simply because they fear that in the same position as Bailey, they would have to do the same.

Currently, clubs do not fear any recriminations from the AFL. Rather than publicly use the word “tanking”, we hear words like, “development, experimentation, rebuilding, and setting the team up for the future”.

I believe although there were positives in doing what Melbourne did, they underestimated how it would affect their culture.

Again, Brock gave us a clear insight into his thoughts as a Melbourne player at the time. I’m sure there would have been many teammates with similar views to his.

I found the interview on Monday night refreshing. But we need to move forward and learn and correct past mistakes.

The AFL must change the system to create competition right up to the final round.

Brock seemingly was making a plea. I hope it was not in vain.

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