‘Gee, did he give it to Alex Keath!’
Western Bulldogs AFL coach Brendan McCartney wants to help young midfielder Tom Liberatore emerge as a better person from the drama of his club suspension for a wild night out.
The 20-year-old has been banned from the remaining four matches of the season after being found unconscious by police on Sunday morning in Melbourne.
The club’s leadership group imposed the ban after Liberatore was found heavily intoxicated and in possession of an illicit substance.
“He’s dealing with a lot of reality at the moment,” McCartney said on Thursday.
“He’s gone, in the space of week, from playing AFL footy at a high level to not having that opportunity to run around with his teammates.
“There’s a bit of work to do in helping him handle that.
“The challenge now for us as a club is to work with our player to get him better.”
McCartney said Liberatore had simply made an error of judgment, on the same weekend that Collingwood’s 2011 Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan was drinking in violation of a booze ban imposed by the Magpies’ playing group.
Swan has been suspended for two weeks by the Magpies.
“He (Liberatore) is not the first that’s ever done it and he won’t be the last,” McCartney said.
“There’s not many of us that haven’t made the odd mistake when we were young people.
“If we haven’t, then we can probably get the moral compass out. People are vulnerable in this industry, especially young people.”
Former Geelong assistant coach McCartney said he had enjoyed working with so many raw young players who went on to become premiership stars and win All-Australian selection.
“They all have their challenges, whether they get themselves into a bit of a jam off the field or go through a form slump or get beaten in a big game,” McCartney told afl.com.au website.
“This one’s got a little bit more on it because it’s a lot more public.
“We’re all disappointed for the situation, we’re disappointed for Tom, but we’re hell bent on getting him through it.
“We want people to also know that when one of us gets into a bit of a jam that as a club we’ll stick together and work with that person to get them through.”
Liberatore, the son of 1990 Brownlow Medallist Tony Liberatore, was also handed a $5000 suspended fine by the club and directed to undergo counselling and find full-time employment for six weeks.