Thomas fronts leadership group but no timeline on return to play

North Melbourne football manager Todd Viney says midfielder Tarryn Thomas will have a hard time earning back the trust of his teammates, who will have a say on when he’s available for selection.

Thomas returned to training on Monday after nearly a month away from the club, following allegations of threatening behaviour from multiple women and a charge for allegedly threatening to distribute an intimate image.

Tarryn Thomas has returned to training with North Melbourne.Credit:Getty Images

The 22-year-old has faced the club’s leadership group and the entire playing group, but remains unavailable for selection until he has completed an education and behaviour change program and gets his fitness to a level suitable to play.

Thomas was among the main training group on Monday, when the Roos took to the track for a flash run. He is expected to train in the main session on Tuesday.

Viney said there was no timeframe on when Thomas would be eligible for selection.

“He’s got to continue to contribute to his programs, spend time away from the club after hours completing those programs,” he said.

“We need to see accountability and the way he talks about the experience continues to be in the right manner, and he’s obviously got to catch up with a month’s worth of training, so there’s a lot of work to be had in a physical sense and an educational sense with those programs.”

Asked whether his teammates would have a say on Thomas’ return, Viney said: “absolutely”.

“As part of this process, Tarryn spoke to the leadership group about what he’s learnt over the past four weeks and the 12 months leading into this position,” Viney said.

“He was quite vulnerable and open.

“The leadership group put forward what they expect from him moving forward, so it was a good two-way conversation. They’ve certainly got an understanding of where Tarryn’s been at, and Tarryn’s got an understanding of what the leadership group want. Today he’s caught up with the whole playing group about being back.”

Viney said there had been a lot of negative attention on the club during the pre-season, including coach Alastair Clarkson making a threatening comment to a Channel Nine journalist, but the Kangaroos were keen to move forward.

“We’re embarking on a really exciting period of time with a new coach and a new footy department, and I think if you spoke to a lot of the people within the organisation, we’re really excited about what we’ve seen so far,” he said.

“But we’re getting a lot of attention for the wrong reasons.

“We speak ongoing around what we expect from our players and the standards and behaviours. I think 99 per cent of what ‘Clarko’ does is first-class; he’s one of the best coaches in modern history. We all have our strengths, and then we have our weaknesses.

“We’ve spoken that he needs to stay cool, calm and collected when the heat’s on. We expect that from our players and from our coaches.”

Following the Roos’ two-point loss to Richmond in their scratch match on Friday, Viney said there was a lot to be positive about on the field.

“We think we’re developing well,” he said.

“Last week in our internal trial we had some concerns. Against Richmond, who we think are still a high-quality team, we saw some really positive stuff.

“We saw some stuff we’ve been trying to implement, and we lost by two points after four quarters. We think that’s a pretty good spot to build from.”

Meanwhile, the club is keen to advance contract talks with key defender Ben McKay, who is out of contract at season’s end.

“It’s been ongoing for a period of time,” Viney said.

“We don’t like good players coming out of contract, and he’s a restricted free agent as we all know. Those conversations have been happening from a year out.

“His management have indicated that they want to see how he goes, let’s get the ball rolling and see how Clarko settles in, but hopefully those conversations start sooner rather than later.”

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