ST KILDA’S decision to place Stephen Milne on a leave of absence was the right choice according to head coach Scott Watters.
Watters said the decision was made from a united club.
“There’s a very unified approach from our board, unified from the football department, unified with our leadership group and I guess there’s always two priorities in this type of situation,” Watters said on Friday.
Watters said there were a number of factors that went into the decision.
“One is a duty of care to the player, two is there is a broader responsibility at club level so we think the outcome has been the best outcome for both,” he said.
“From our perspective it’s pretty clear, we have a duty of care to Steve. We’ll make sure that he has some time to prioritise his family in what’s a really sensitive situation. We thought that was absolutely critical so we certainly stand by that.”
Watters said Milne still had plenty to offer the Saints on the field and that the indefinite leave did not mean he would not play again.
“Stephen will return to play, we’d be very hopeful that within three to four weeks he’s available to come back out and do what he loves doing, at the same time there’s a duty of care and responsibility to Milney so we just need to see how things unfold as well.”
Watters said he was in regular contact with Milne and that he was aware of the difficult circumstances surrounding everyone involved.
“I speak to Stephen a fair bit. As you would expect it’s a very tough circumstance so he is going well. From our point of view, we also want to be extremely respectful of all the parties involved,” he said.
“This is a tough situation for a whole lot of people. Stephen’s coping well and we hope that all that are associated with it are coping well. It’s tough for a lot of people.”
Watters was part of a meeting between players and the board on Thursday to discuss the Milne decision in detail.
“There was a phone call from me to the leadership group to actually say, ‘we’d love you to come in at 12pm and have the opportunity to further discuss what’s been a tough time for the club,” he said.
“You’ll have the opportunity to sit with two or three of the directors, of which I instigated because open communication in this sort of time is absolutely critical.”
“On top of that, I contacted six or seven senior players and again, I asked them to come in to make sure there was a really good opportunity for everyone to be really clear on the intent around the whole decision was. Out of that I think everyone’s very, well as comfortable as you can be in what’s a pretty testing time.