Former Adelaide forward Josh Jenkins claims leaders of the Crows’ infamous pre-season camp preyed on players with traumatic upbringings and he called on a club doctor to release a report on it to the public.
Jenkins is the first former Crows player to publicly back up AFL legend Eddie Betts’ version of events after the release of his autobiography this week.
The 33-year-old, who retired last year after a stint with Geelong, described the 2018 camp on the Gold Coast as “dumb” and “disgraceful”.
“Each player was scolded with abuse and physicality so they’d be physically and emotionally worn out,” Jenkins read out in a statement on SEN on Friday.
“This is where I’m happy to try and explain why some rituals were confronting and some were ‘nothing to see here’ and easily moved on from for others.
“In my view, the boys who had had a more ‘normal’ or traditional upbringing without any real trauma or tragedy in their lives had very little to be poked and prodded about.”
Jenkins believes he and Betts were targeted after they revealed personal information to the camp’s leaders.
“My childhood is a source of shame, pain and pride,” Jenkins said.
“I am proud I am where I am today despite any potential hurdles thrown my way as a young person, but I will always have the pain of not having a family to lean on in tough times or to celebrate with on celebratory occasions.
“Even as an adult, small things can stay with you. I recall the awkwardness I felt when I didn’t have anyone to invite into the rooms for my debut jumper presentation. No matter how far you go, some things can always nibble away at you.
“I explained my upbringing had probably led me to being more skeptical and isolated – with a determination to do things my way.
“I also stated I was proud of the person I was and that in no way was my childhood of any relevance to anything I was doing as a professional athlete.
“I stated more than once I wanted none of my upbringing to be used or even spoken of during or after the camp. Something which was promised to me – but in my view, a promise that was broken.
“Those – like me, Eddie and perhaps others – had experienced different things that were more raw when focused on – especially when we’d been assured, essentially promised, nothing like this would be raised,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said he was distraught when sensitive information about his childhood and upbringing were brought up in front of teammates.
“I recall some of the barbs thrown at Eddie – and others – and recall glaring at one of our coaches who quickly picked up my emotions.
“Everyone went through the ritual and on the last morning, we had a relaxed discussion with the facilitators – which is also when we were told how to discuss what we’d done with our teammates and family members.
“I distinctly recall the role playing on what to say to partners and teammates.”
Adelaide went on the camp just months after their shock 2017 grand final loss against Richmond.
The Crows have not played finals since and are going through a long rebuild under coach Matthew Nicks, who arrived at the club ahead of the 2020 season.
Jenkins called on the Crows doctor Marc Cesana to release a report he made on the camp.
“There is a report from our club doctor Marc Cesana, whom I sat with on countless occasions where he assessed my welfare and did the same with others…
“He wrote a lengthy report off the back of his dealings with us as players and people.
“No one has ever acted on that report – which I know is damning.
“The report must see the light of day. It’s the only example of a medical professional who had day-to-day dealings with the people and players who were involved.
“He was concerned about us.
“He expressed his disappointment to me about what happened to us, but never disclosed the details of what he’d discussed with other players.
“Hence why the report needs to see the light of day.
“I recall, during one meeting, our doctor expressed in front of the entire playing group and most of the staff that what occurred on the camp was totally unacceptable – and I know the report captures that!
“Today is a good day and a really sad day.”