Richmond AFL player Sydney Stack guilty of COVID breach after visiting Northbridge



Richmond AFL player Sydney Stack has pleaded guilty to breaching WA’s strict COVID quarantine laws, but will have to wait until March to find out his penalty.

Stack, who last year breached AFL COVID protocols by attending a Gold Coast strip club, spent nearly three weeks in jail after being arrested in Perth’s entertainment precinct of Northbridge.

The footballer had been granted permission, on compassionate grounds, to enter WA from Melbourne via South Australia 10 days earlier so that he could attend his grandfather’s funeral.

He was permitted to complete his 14-day quarantine at a property in Northam, about 100 kilometres east of Perth, but police said he was found in Northbridge in the early hours of Saturday, December 19.

He first appeared in court on Sunday, December 20.

Officers said he was staying at a house in suburban Belmont and not at the Northam address where he was supposed to be quarantining.

Stack was granted bail earlier this month after a Supreme Court judge said it was unlikely he would receive a jail term if convicted.

The footballer appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court again on Wednesday morning and pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a direction.

Stack’s lawyer requested that pre-sentence and psychological reports be prepared for his sentencing, but they usually took six weeks to complete so the case was adjourned until March 25.

Stack made no comment as he left court, but his manager Paul Peos said neither he nor Stack could say anything because the matter was still before the courts.

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Richmond AFL player Sidney Stack guilty of COVID breach after visiting Northbridge



Richmond AFL player Sidney Stack has pleaded guilty to breaching WA’s strict COVID quarantine laws, but will have to wait until March to find out his penalty.

Stack, who last year breached AFL COVID protocols by attending a Gold Coast strip club, spent nearly three weeks in jail after being arrested in Perth’s entertainment precinct of Northbridge.

The footballer had been granted permission, on compassionate grounds, to enter WA from Melbourne via South Australia 10 days earlier so that he could attend his grandfather’s funeral.

He was permitted to complete his 14-day quarantine at a property in Northam, about 100 kilometres east of Perth, but police said he was found in Northbridge in the early hours of Saturday, December 19.

He first appeared in court on Sunday, December 20.

Officers said he was staying at a house in suburban Belmont and not at the Northam address where he was supposed to be quarantining.

Stack was granted bail earlier this month after a Supreme Court judge said it was unlikely he would receive a jail term if convicted.

The footballer appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court again on Wednesday morning and pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a direction.

Stack’s lawyer requested that pre-sentence and psychological reports be prepared for his sentencing, but they usually took six weeks to complete so the case was adjourned until March 25.

Stack made no comment as he left court, but his manager Paul Peos said neither he nor Stack could say anything because the matter was still before the courts.

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“Awkward” Hardwick situation threatens to “derail” Richmond


Kane Cornes believes Damien Hardwick’s new relationship with a Richmond staff member and subsequent marriage breakdown could derail the club.

Hardwick and wife Danielle recently split, with the three-time premiership coach now seeing a younger member of the club’s commercial sales team.

Cornes is of the belief that this latest off-field scenario may have a negative impact on the Tigers as they chase a three-peat and fourth premiership in five years.

“Some off-season controversies, a little bit sensitive to speak about marriage breakdowns,” he said on SEN SA Breakfast.

“There were three of them, certainly well documented in the press. Nathan Buckley, Simon Goodwin and Damien Hardwick, the most controversial of those.

“I get the feeling it’s going to divide the Richmond Footy Club, there is no doubt about that, because of the fact Damien’s relationship is with a staff member from the football club.

“Also, Brooke Cotchin, the wife of Trent, has been pretty publicly supportive of Damien Hardwick’s ex-wife Danielle.

“I’m not sure how Richmond will function this year. I think it’s going to be awkward and it does threaten to derail their season and end the dynasty which has been at Richmond.

“So I’ll watch that one play out.”

Malcolm Blight also recently commented on the situation, insisting that the playing group will not worry about what’s happening in their coach’s personal life.





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Why “scary” Richmond is well equipped to deny a rapid fall


Historically, after four or so years at the very top, AFL teams begin to fall away.

With three premierships in four seasons, it is largely the opinion that Richmond is towards the back-end of a dynasty that may see them begin to drop off sooner than later.

Many have questioned whether the Tigers will have the hunger to go again, but Glen Jakovich is confident they will once more be a genuine flag threat.

The West Coast great feels that Damien Hardwick’s side will have plenty of challengers this year but believes the playing group is perfectly placed to see that off and play quality football again.

“Don’t bet against them,” he said on Sportsday WA.

“That’s what I’ve learnt with looking at Richmond’s side. It’s amazing.

“Much to be respected for this football club both on and off the field.

“I don’t want to hear the Tigers’ song too much this year. It is a great song but we’ve heard a fair bit of it in the last four years.

“Sides like Collingwood, Port (Adelaide), Brisbane, Geelong, the Saints and West Coast, they’ll be at their feet and they’ll be pushing them. ”

The Tigers start the 2021 season with games against Carlton (MCG), Hawthorn (MCG), Sydney (MCG), Port Adelaide (Adelaide Oval), St Kilda (Marvel) and Melbourne (MCG) in the opening six rounds which suggests to Jakovich that they will be in a very strong position early in the campaign.

He knows that it will be difficult for the yellow and black to consistently perform at their peak but says their best is “scary” and good enough to withstand the pressure.

“I expect them to be four and two at worst after that start, which tells me straight away they are going to finish top four,” he added.

“My theme for the Tigers is: Their hunger will get challenged this year.”

He continued: “Our system is designed for Richmond to fall and to fall rapidly, but they’re going to deny that.

“In the core group there’s a lot of hunger still there. There’s still some years left, they’re not 32, 33 or 34. Some of them are in their prime.

“Can they handle the pressure? There’s no doubting they can but they will get challenged.

“It’s all mental for them. Physically, if their game is on, it’s scary.”

Jakovich also identified the key players at Tigerland who will again be at the fore as they chase a 14th premiership.

“If you look at their list, their core group that I’ve identified is dynamite,” he said of the personnel.

“I don’t say this in a disrespectful way, they’re not really household names, but they’d be the first ones I’d love to play alongside.

“That’s Nick Vlastuin, Dylan Grimes, Dion Prestia.

“Dustin Martin is an out and out superstar and he’s going to be a legend one day.

“Jack Riewoldt, is he coming towards the end? He just started to fade a little bit, but he’s got great support in Tom Lynch.

“Trent Cotchin, soft tissue injuries, but Shane Edwards, Jason Castagna, David Astbury, Bachar Houli, Josh Caddy, Liam Baker, Jayden Short, Kamdyn McIntosh and Nathan Broad. That’s their core, they rarely get injured.

“They’ve been able to hold their list, and it’s very, very strong.

“For them to win it they need to have a very healthy list again.”





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How will Richmond Tigers cope after the marriage breakdown of coach Damien Hardwick?


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Although Riewoldt’s description rang true for those at the club on Monday when they saw Hardwick – who despite occasional public outbursts of frustration generally adopts a “never explain, never complain” attitude – bounce in to work ready to go, the effect on the club remains to be seen.

The coach knows what is required of him to do his job well, having admitted after last year’s grand final that his reluctance to accept COVID-19 restrictions affected the team, saying “the reality is if I’m struggling, the players are certainly going to feed off that energy” .

He also understands why some players are shocked at what has happened and appreciates they will need time and raw conversations to adjust to the new light in which some – certainly not all – of his most loyal lieutenants now see him.

But his demeanour allowed most players to maintain a guise that suggested if the personal issues were to have any impact on the club they would be minimal.

They showed in 2020 that they could overcome all manner of distractions, including Hardwick’s internal struggles, defeating Geelong in a hard-fought grand final. Early wins this season will push the very public private matter well into the background because for all the posturing from clubs that’s what matters most.

That doesn’t mean senior people at the club are underestimating what lies ahead as there are very few road maps for how modern, often superficially virtuous, football clubs handle such matters despite the situation being a classic conjunction of events – a very public and long-standing personal relationship breakdown, and the interaction of a senior staff member with a more junior one, albeit in a separate section of the organisation.

Skipper Trent Cotchin and Damien Hardwick lift the 2020 premiership cup.Credit:Getty Images

Richmond may not have couched it in such terms, but the reality is that the senior coach in any club holds more cards than anybody bar the CEO and the president, both who have remained, to this point, silent on the matter publicly.

The club released a statement addressing that power dynamic, saying they were satisfied after examining their human resources policy that they were comfortable in workplace terms with the situation, as marketing executive Alexandra Crow did not report to the coach.

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Beth Gaze, a professor at Melbourne University’s Law School, says it appears from afar that the Tigers have handled the issue appropriately from that perspective.

“One of the concerns organisations have is that if someone has power over somebody else’s career that there may be some favouritism and that can, of course, really poison the workplace and can make relationships difficult,” Gaze said.

“The consequences of [such a relationship] should not rest on the woman or the more junior person and that is why organisations are in a sense saying if you are the senior person then it is your responsibility to make sure you have disclosed this and removed yourself from any control over their career.

“The rest of it is awkward but there is no way you can avoid those emotional consequences.”

Given there is no way of avoiding the emotional fallout, management led by CEO Brendon Gale and president Peggy O’Neal will need to be on their game.

Even though football clubs, generally speaking, get on with the job (Richmond are not the only club dealing this summer with marriage breakdowns or interoffice relationships that not everyone within the office are celebrating), this turn of events has saddened many.

What effect the marriage breakdown will have on those at the club close to the coach and his wife remains unclear; as we have seen, Danielle Hardwick and daughters were embraced by the captain’s wife, Brooke Cotchin, at Christmas.

Adding to the complexity is the fact the Tigers’ extensive network of tight personal bonds – common in AFL clubs but rare in most other workplaces – have been cited as one of the secrets to the Tigers’ recent success with the use of anecdotes and connected stories a key part of the coach’s modus operandi in recent years as he established a tight bond with his players.

The notion of being a “Richmond man” and concepts of mindfulness sat nicely beside Hardwick’s occasional public reference to Mrs Hardwick’s influence on his thinking, words that smoothed his rough edges and endeared him to the public whenever he apologised for overstepping the mark.

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Family and football even intertwined before the 2019 grand final in a moment captured in Konrad Marshall’s book Stronger and Bolder when Hardwick gave each player a rock to write the name of the person they would dedicate their performance to as he argued it would make them more determined to succeed. He then held up a large rock carrying words revealing his own motivation, Danielle and family.

Such public and private expressions from the coach add another layer of complexity to managing the situation.

Despite all that, officials from other clubs share the Tigers’ view that their performance won’t be affected much, with the players’ pride in their performance paramount and the leaders experienced enough to allow Hardwick’s role to be one of alignment.

Many have been through change with Hardwick before as the coach began his career as a command-and-control coach who would stop drills midway to tell players where they should be and the decision they should make.

At that point Hardwick was less about finding time to have a coffee with players and more about using the time to talk about their positioning and what the numbers said about performance. His dress sense was chided, his down-to-earth nature and loyalty to them celebrated, but the emotional rollercoaster he took many at the club on was exhausting.

It wasn’t until the nadir of 2016 that he overcame his controlling instinct to give his best decision-makers licence to play and gave fringe players roles that emphasised their strengths with their pace giving the Tigers numbers around the ball.

He, relaxed, opened himself up to learning and created a game plan that one assistant coach said boiled down to Richmond taking the ball forward under pressure.

They scored off turnover and players such as the skipper led the way in creating a group of low-possession, high-impact players.

The so-called “simple” game plan is now, after four years of refinement, described by one experienced assistant as like an orchestra that makes the difficult coordination of disparate parts seem effortless in their creation of a masterpiece.

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It is a turnaround that has Hardwick on the verge of equalling such coaching greats as Kevin Sheedy, Allan Jeans, Ron Barassi, Tom Hafey, David Parkin and the man he has shared so much with, Alastair Clarkson, with four flags.

Richmond are sticking with the coach, as they have before in trying times, hoping for business as usual.

After such a dramatic 2020 it might seem business as usual but time will tell what the real impact will be in season 2021 with the exhausted Gale telling 3AW pre-Christmas that they will have no option but to get on with it.

“We’ve just got to find a way to recharge and re-energise and renew and we will, because that’s the way our caper rolls,” Gale said.

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AFL 2021: Damien Hardwick split with wife, Richmond Tigers, addresses players, Simon Goodwin split with wife, Melbourne


Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has addressed his players about his new relationship with a club staffer while a rival boss has become the third in recent months to split with his wife.

After previously flagging he would take a break until February, Hardwick returned to Punt Road on Monday as the senior players began their pre-season training regimen.

Hardwick split with his partner Danielle last year and the club has confirmed he has since begun a relationship with a member of Richmond’s administration staff.

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Round 1



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Richmond Tigers won’t be affected by coach Damien Hardwick’s relationship with club staffer, says Jack Riewoldt


Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt believes the breakdown of coach Damien Hardwick’s marriage and his new relationship with a club staffer will not affect the playing group in a negative way.

Hardwick recently announced his split with wife Danielle before reports emerged that the three-time premiership coach had begun a relationship with a staffer in the club’s commercial sales team.

Jack Riewoldt (right) says Damien Hardwick (centre) had addressed the issue of his new relationship with the playing group.Credit:Getty Images

Richmond last week said the relationship did not breach any of its club policies, while Riewoldt said on Monday that Hardwick had addressed the issue with the playing group.

“I don’t think it’s going to have any impact really,” Riewoldt said. “Damien is a good enough character to separate his personal life from his professional life and he has shown the last four years he has been arguably the best coach in the land and he will continue to support us and we will continue to support him.

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AFL news: Third coach splits with wife after Richmond Damien Hardwick and Collingwood Nathan Buckley separations


As it prepares to navigate another season that will likely be impacted by COVID, the AFL will continue to be wary of the impact placing its Victorian clubs in bubbles appears to have had on its coaching fraternity and their families.

There are countless reasons why marriages survive or fail and none but those involved know how critical being separated from each other for long periods of 2020 had on the relationships of Nathan Buckley, Damien Hardwick and a third AFL coach news.com.au has chosen not to name.

But as news of the painful separations continue to emerge, the numbers are getting hard to ignore.

RELATED: Inside Nathan and Tania Buckley’s rocky marriage

RELATED: Explosive posts from Mrs Hardwick and Brooke Cotchin

If you throw in North Melbourne’s Rhyce Shaw, who was forced to leave a coveted senior coaching position at the end of the season to deal with personal issues of his own, four of the 10 coaches of Victorian clubs had their lives left in a state of upheaval last year.

It was the coaches and players of the Melbourne clubs, forced out of Victoria as it suffered the worst of the pandemic, that were placed under the greatest strain. All of the interstate clubs were stretched too but their periods of separation from their families were interspersed with regular periods at home.

The 2020 quartet join a disturbing list of senior AFL coaches to have suffered personal issues while trying to deal with the incredible pressure that comes with being a senior coach.

It’s a trend that saw long-time Hawthorn mentor Alastair Clarkson speak out after Shaw stepped down at the Kangaroos.

“I’m a bit concerned for our profession,” Clarkson told Fox Footy’s AFL 360. “Especially my 17 peers in the roles that we’ve got.

“We’ve always looked after everyone else in the club and put everyone else in the club before ourselves. It might be time for us to take stock ourselves of just what our workflow is and our schedule because it’s now getting to a point where we’re seeing some real casualties out of our industry.”

There’s no doubt the AFL prevented significant personal hardship by forging on with its season and ensuring as many in the industry as possible continued to earn a wage.

It also did everything within its power to make the revised season as comfortable as possible for all involved by inviting families that were able were to come to the isolation hubs in Queensland.

You could argue no one was forced to be involved either. But there is unspoken pressure in football and many working environments to continue to front up despite – as Collingwood player Travis Varcoe revealed last week – many hating the experience.

It’s all worth considering if COVID comes knocking again this season.



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Richmond Tigers player Sydney Stack granted bail following imprisonment over alleged COVID-19 quarantine breach


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Richmond have been providing support to Stack although they have not been able to have a representative in court because of WA’s border restrictions.

His agent, Paul Peos, had previously said Stack was “very distressed” given he had to spend Christmas and the new year period in prison.

Stack was involved in an AFL coronavirus rule breach in September last year when he and Callum Coleman-Jones were sent home from Queensland, suspended for 10 matches and fined for their involvement in a fight outside a Gold Coast night club.

Former St Kilda assistant coach Jason Mifsud, who like Stack is Indigenous, questioned the decision to put Stack behind bars at the time.

“Challenge the behaviour, support the person. Not sure incarcerating a vulnerable young person is the only solution in a case such as this. Seems unimaginative and unnecessarily punitive,” Mifsud posted on Twitter.

Stack has played 26 games for Richmond across two seasons.

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AFL 2021: Sydney Stack, COVID breach, West Australia, court case, bailed, sentence, alleged brawl, Richmond Tigers, news


Richmond’s Sydney Stack will finally be released from prison after spending almost three weeks behind bars, including Christmas and New Year’s, over a COVID breach.

After being sent to WA’s toughest prison, Hakea, an agreement was reached between Stack’s lawyer and the Director of Public Prosecutons which saw the young Tiger bailed by the Supreme Court on Friday.

The West Australian was initially denied bail when he was arrested in the early hours of December 20, following an alleged brawl in Northbridge.

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Round 1

Stack had entered the state on December 10 and moved from his nominated address in Northam to Belmont, around an hour away, after a family argument and should have been in isolation.

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