‘We got it wrong’: Ex-Crows coach Don Pyke says sorry for camp after more players speak out
Former Adelaide coach Don Pyke has apologised for the 2018 pre-season camp amid growing scrutiny of his role in it, as players continue to speak out.
On Saturday Bryce Gibbs joined Josh Jenkins and Eddie Betts as past Adelaide players opening up on their disturbing experiences.
Gibbs backed up Jenkins and Betts’ claims, including about counsellors asking the players for personal information which was then used to abuse them during camp rituals.
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Jenkins revealed during the now-infamous ‘harness’ incident he asked Pyke and Crows development manager Heath Younie why it was taking place, telling them “we lost a game of footy (the 2017 Grand Final), we are all good people, this is rubbish and I think we should all leave”.
Crows higher-ups have also been criticised for their handling of the camp fall-out, with Jenkins claiming the club told players it had signed confidentiality agreements on their behalf, and that after Indigenous players’ reaction to the camp, it was suggested they as a group would be excluded from the leadership program.
The Herald Sun’s Mark Robinson wrote this weekend: “Coach Don Pyke, who was on the camp and surely aware of the distress and distrust growing within his playing group, needed to be better.
“He needed to stop it. Someone had to and he was coach.”
Now a Swans assistant, Pyke delivered an apology while speaking to media at Melbourne Airport on Saturday.
“To Josh and Eddie and the Adelaide players and staff who were involved, I apologise for the camp. It's saddened me to see they’re feeling that way. I acknowledge the hurt and I’m sorry,” he said.
“I’ve been in contact with both of them, haven’t had a chance to speak to them yet but have spoken to a couple of the other guys. Clearly it’s a sad time for us all. I’ll reach out to some other guys in the next couple of days.
“Clearly we’re always reflecting, there’s a couple of components there - firstly with Eddie and Josh, the fact they feel personal information they provided was used against them, that’s disappointing and unacceptable. I’m saddened by that, sorry by that.
“Clearly we entered as I’ve said before, a space to improve from a performance viewpoint. And that space had some challenges and we got it wrong, that has to be acknowledged. Whether it was our planning, whether it was our assessment, the execution or the follow-up or the debriefing following the events of the camp, clearly it was an error and I’ve apologised to the playing group before and I apologise again.
“I respect Eddie and Josh for speaking out and saying their piece about how they felt about the camp. It’s put it on the agenda and on the table for discussion. It’s important we have the discussion to try and deal with the issues that arise from that.
“If there’s still people with ongoing issues we support them and we try and actually move on from this. It’s a challenging time for all of us but one that we’ll get through hopefully.”
Pyke was also asked whether he believed his role in the camp would impact his chances of getting another senior coaching role, such as at GWS, but said that was "for others” to discuss.