After his team pummelled the Tigers in
round one, Bulldog Ryan Griffen made a grave mistake: he gave the media an
honest answer to a question during a post match interview, saying
the Tiger’s “basically gave up” after half time, an honest opinion that led to
all sorts of trouble for the youngster.

Speaking on radio this morning, Bulldogs
coach Rodney Eade revealed that after his comments were reported, Griffen
received a text message from team mate Adam Cooney suggesting he ring his
coach. Subsequently, he has been spoken to by club leaders and taught the dark
art of talking loud and saying nothing – a skill footballers learn quickly.
He’s back on media duty already.

But one of Eade’s comments was instructive.
Despite sanctioning a young, naïve player for speaking honestly about an
opponent, and thereby giving them ammunition, Eade said he thought that sort of
motivation was empty. If it takes comments from your opponents to get you
inspired to play good football, then there’s a problem.

It’s clearly not a view shared by Jason
Akermanis. Following last year’s bruising season opener against the Saints (and
then the 139 point drubbing the Lions suffered at season’s end), the man with
the biggest mouth in AFL football is rattling cages ahead of tomorrow night’s return bout.

But is it helpful for the underdogs? Is it
already hard enough playing a top flight team like St Kilda without having
Aaron Hamill and Fraser Gehrig a bit testy before the game even starts? How
does it affect the rookies in your team, who are playing their first or second
game and have to face an angrier than usual St Kilda outfit? For what it’s
worth, Lions coach Leigh Matthews has pulled Akermanis into line after previous
outbursts.

Whatever the consequences for a player of
Akermanis’ proven genius, either on the field or off, they’ll be a fraction of
what Ryan Griffen has been through simply for stating his opinion, and won’t do
his post-footy media career any harm either.

Peter Fray

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