In the spotlight: St Kilda's Sam Fisher. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
THE off-field behaviour of yet another senior AFL footballer has become a serious issue, with St Kilda star Sam Fisher now a genuine chance of being excluded from the club's 2013 leadership group.
With Collingwood becoming increasingly frustrated with Dane Swan and Richmond yet to commit long-term to its errant young gun Dustin Martin, Fairfax Media has learnt that Fisher's controversial behaviour has begun to antagonise his teammates, concerned at his influential role among the Saints players.
Fisher's management group, Elite Sports Properties, had become aware of Fisher's off-field issues and was planning to address them face-to-face with the 30-year-old.
St Kilda officials, however, denied knowledge of any serious problems with Fisher. Club chief executive Michael Nettlefold said there had been no discussions at management level regarding changes to the leadership group. Nettlefold said those decisions would not take place until the new year.
The Saints also denied reports that they had planned to recommend Fisher receive some form of off-field counselling. Fisher's former teammate Jason Gram was suspended by the club at the end of the 2012 season and later sacked after failing to comply to club instructions. Gram was later convicted and fined $5000 on six criminal charges. There is no suggestion Fisher is facing any legal issues.
Richmond admitted last month that it had confronted Martin, 21, regarding his poor behaviour over the off-season break and on the company he was keeping. The Tigers suspended their young star when he missed a training session during 2012 and admitted he had been out drinking on a Monday night. Teammate Daniel Connors was sacked.
Swan was also suspended by Collingwood after arriving at training in an unfit state. Collingwood football boss Geoff Walsh made his thoughts regarding undisciplined and uncommitted footballers abundantly clear after the club moved Sharrod Wellingham on to West Coast. Ray McLean has been brought back to the club to improve the playing culture and address the team leaders.
Swan, the 2011 Brownlow medallist, quit the Magpies' leadership group at the start of the 2012 season and his behaviour has continued to be a matter of grave concern for the club.
Fisher and his teammates leave for a two-week training camp in Colorado on Monday. It is not known whether he has yet been spoken to by the club's on-field leaders.