Essendon AFL coach Mark Thompson hit back at criticism over his comments on the Bombers’ recovery last week, branding it “outrageous … utter rubbish”.
The Bombers next face Collingwood in their Anzac Day fixture and might regain Brendon Goddard (groin), Tom Bellchambers (ankle) and Jason Winderlich (rested).
But on Tuesday, it was Thompson’s post-match media conference that proved as much a talking point as player availability and his side’s poor showing against St Kilda.
Instead of using a six-day turnaround following a game in the scorching heat of Perth as an excuse for a listless loss to the Saints, Thompson had instead questioned his charges’ recovery.
Club great Matthew Lloyd termed it a “whack for the fitness coach … and the senior players” on Channel Nine, while other pundits remarked Thompson should be in control of such issues.
“For people to say I should know is just utter rubbish,” Thompson said on Tuesday.
“I said from my experience, from knowing good players – they get ready and do extra recovery sessions in their own time.
“I know Gary Ablett used to turn up to the club at midnight or go down to the beach at midnight after a day game. That’s what they’re expected to do.”
Thompson offered a similarly stern rebuke to the suggestion he’d drawn a divide between coach and players.
“I found it outrageous, because that’s not what I said,” he said.
“… I just spoke to them (the players). I think they’re ok with what I said – hopefully.
“If they’re not, it’s not up to me really to be their father. They’ve just got to look after their own careers.”
Thompson was confident Winderlich would return, but admitted Goddard and Bellchambers would be tougher decisions.
“You have to be careful; we don’t want to put him out there and risk a recurrence,” Thompson said of Goddard.
“He’ll put his hand up.
“They’re the hard ones, when the player wants to play and we’re not sure if he should.”
Jake Carlisle was among those put on notice by Thompson, who said the versatile big man wasn’t working hard enough in games.
“He’s not out of the side at the moment,” Thompson said.
“So if he really wants to play, he’ll show that.”