Watters: no turning back on Gram
Jason Gram was St Kilda's best player in its narrow 2009 grand final defeat. Photo: Getty Images
St Kilda coach Scott Watters admits he is disappointed the club had to sack Jason Gram last year, but has ruled out any chance of the Saints ever recruiting the player again.
Watters on Thursday conceded the call was a tough one.
"It’s a tough decision on a player. My preference was that he’d still be here and that he’d been able to work through some of the challenges that he was facing and react to the guidelines that we’d set in front of him over 16 months," Watters said.
"I don’t want to grandstand on the disappointment of Jason and his position now. He gave a lot to this club over a long period of time. There’s a level of disappointment that he’s not here but ultimately the right decision was made for this football club and this football team."
The Saints terminated Gram’s contract in October due to off-field behaviour issues, around the time police arrested him and he spent a night in a holding cell before fronting court.
The club had suspended him indefinitely the previous month and Watters had warned him he was on his last chance.
Gram, 28, insists he did not deserve the sack and in a newspaper report said he had not given up on returning to the AFL. The half-back, who played 154 games for St Kilda after two with the Brisbane Lions and was the Saints’ best player in the 2009 grand final, will play with North Albury in the Ovens & Murray league this year.
St Kilda and Gram’s management reached a settlement on his pay-out. Watters says St Kilda continued to provide Gram with support, but ruled out the chance of the Saints ever giving the player another chance.
"He’s probably not the right fit for us going forward given our demographic, but I’d love to see Gramy turn it around get back on track and if there’s a side out there, he’s a talented player," the coach said.
"If that turned around for him no one would be more pleased than me."
After his sacking, representatives from every other AFL club told Fairfax Media they were not interested in recruiting Gram.
Watters denied previous scandals at St Kilda had had any bearing on the club’s decision on Gram’s sacking.
"This was a reaction based on our values and what we need to stand for as a group of players and as a club," he said.
"There’s pretty strong guidelines on what a player needs to do and we’re not really going to budge from that."