Give Hay some breathing space: Laidley
Kangaroos coach Dean Laidley pledged his full support for Jonathan Hay following the AFL club's shock announcement that the key defender had retired from the game.
Hay informed Roos officials of his decision during a mediation session involving the club and the AFL Players' Association on Friday night.
That meeting involved the club's decision to reduce his three-year contract, reportedly worth $1 million, after the Kangaroos discovered Hay had bipolar depression.
"I spoke to him yesterday afternoon and last night and he informed me of his decision," Laidley said following the Kangaroos' crushing 51-point victory over Collingwood in the NAB Cup match at Gold Coast Stadium on Friday night.
"Look it was pretty disappointing because from where he was at and what he went through last year, he was in a pretty dark place.
"He fought his way back and had a terrific pre-season and my only concern now is not for Jonathan Hay the footballer, but Jonathan Hay the person.
"I've supported him pretty heavily throughout this and I'll continue to do that, as will the players' association and the club."
Hay, 27, joined the Kangaroos from Hawthorn last year but endured a wretched season, with the club eventually punishing him for an off-field discretion.
Laidley urged people to give Hay some space to get his head together.
"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge," he added.
"Obviously our phones have been going crazy.
"Let the dust settle and let's give Jon a bit of breathing space.
"I'm sure all parties - the players' association, the football club and the AFL - will support this guy 100 per cent."
Laidley said Hay's loss was a big blow to the club but the 2001 All-Australian fullback's health was more important.
"We'll go a player short for the rest of the season which puts a little bit more of a burden on each player because you have one less player to pick from," Laidley added.
"But it's not about that. It's about this man's health.
"Forget all the other rigmarole - it ain't about that.
"The people who write anything about this topic will want to be very sensitive about it.
"I think we've got to look after this guy because I think it's the first time it has happened in AFL football that perhaps we know about."
Laidley had informed Hay he would not be playing on the Gold Coast before the defender had dropped his bombshell.
"I thought he'd come a long way but he was still a bit behind the other fellas," the coach pointed out.
"He knew what lay ahead but getting to this point of the season ... where he's under the spotlight again may have been more difficult for him."
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