AFL captain breaks silence on racism drama

Adelaide Crows captain Rory Sloane says he’d love to have Taylor “Tex” Walker at the club in 2022 but acknowledges there is “a lot still to play out” before he can be welcomed back to West Lakes.

Sloane fronted the media on Thursday for his first press conference since news broke that Walker had made a racist comment at a SANFL game in July.

Walker, who has been fined $20,000 and banned for six games over the incident, released an apology video on Monday featuring the target of his comment, Indigenous North Adelaide player Robbie Young.

While Sloane said he had not spoken to the Crows’ Indigenous players nor the playing group as whole about whether they would feel comfortable having Walker at the club next season, he said he personally hoped the key forward could be a part of Adelaide’s 2022 campaign.

“If you’re asking me personally, in an ideal situation of course I’d love him here. But it’s not as simple as that and there’s a lot still to play out. It’s obviously a complicated issue,” Sloane told reporters.

“I’m good friends with Tex, I care about him but I’ve got a lot of good friends in our footy club as well that I also care about.

“That’s the balance at the moment; is to make sure our Indigenous players are well looked after.

“Tex is part of our footy club, so I’ll be there for him, too.”

Walker’s apology video divided opinion in the AFL community upon its release this week.Source:Supplied

Earlier this week, Crows chief executive Tim Silvers said it was “too early” for the club to make a call on Walker’s playing future.

“It’s too early to guarantee that (Walker will stay), but he is contracted and we’ve got to work through a number of different people,” Silvers toldSEN.

“(The) culture of our footy club is first and foremost, and we need to get that right and then look at reintegrating Taylor back into the club when the time is right.”

Sloane said the incident had been “pretty tough” on the Crows as an organisation, adding “a lot of our footy club” was hurt by Walker’s actions.

“Our Indigenous boys are hurting, clearly; our whole footy club’s hurting,” Sloane said.

Asked what he could do to support the club’s four Indigenous players, Ben Davis, Tariek Newchurch, Wayne Milera and Shane McAdam, Sloane said he would “put (his) arm around them”.

“Have a chat, have a conversation. I think that’s one thing I’d encourage everyone to do,” Sloane said.

“Have the conversation and celebrate people’s differences because racism is an issue in Australia.”

Sloane has played his entire career to date with the Crows. Picture: Daniel Kalisz / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Sloane said it was also important for both himself and senior coach Matthew Nicks to support Walker in the fallout from his comment.

“That’s my role, that’s Nicksy’s role, that’s everyone’s role in the footy club – to make sure everyone’s OK, in this situation,” he said.

“Our Indigenous boys, our players, and Tex is part of our footy club, so we have to make sure he’s OK, too.

“I think the main message for me to all of Australia is celebrate people’s differences.

“Definitely don’t stand for racism. Treat everyone the same but celebrate people’s differences.”

While Walker could be at the club in 2022, Adelaide announced on Thursday that two-time All-Australian defender Daniel Talia would not be.

Talia has played 200 games for the Crows since 2010, but two serious injury blows have prevented him from making any senior appearances this season.

Talia said he was “disappointed” to be leaving the club.

“I feel like I have more years left in me at the top level but I understand the decision and direction the club is going,” Talia said in a statement.

“I am going to take some time to consider what comes next for my young family and I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have had to play for the Crows.”

Talia was named Adelaide’s best-and-fairest player in 2014 and was awarded the Malcolm Blight Medal. Picture: Tom HuntleySource:News Corp Australia

Talia’s delisting came two days after the club announced it would not offer forward Tom Lynch a contract for next season, either.

“It’s an incredibly tough time of year, this little period, because you can lose some of our greatest mates in a footy club,” Sloane said.

“I’ve been through an incredible amount of good times and some tough times with (Talia and Lynch), in particular.

“They’re great human beings. It’s always the hardest thing, saying goodbye to those sorts of people.

“We wish them all the best as a footy club.”

Sloane said he was unsure whether Matt Crouch’s contract would be renewed beyond 2021.

Like Talia, Crouch has been kept out of the senior side through injury all season, but Sloane said he hoped the 26-year-old could remain at Adelaide.

“I love Matt Crouch. He’s obviously been through his challenges this year with some injuries,” Sloane said.

“I’m not sure how that one plays out, but I love him.”

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