Collingwood defender Marley Williams has revealed he is “devastated” but feels it is the right decision to not play senior football until he faces sentencing in a West Australian court in April.
After discussions with several parties, including the AFL, AFL Players Association, legal and health professionals, the Magpies say Williams decided himself it would be best to miss the opening weeks of the new AFL season.
Williams was last week found guilty of grievous bodily harm when he punched and broke a man’s jaw outside an Albany nightclub on Boxing Day 2012. He will learn his fate on April 22 and faces time in jail.
“At the moment I’m devastated. I’m in a situation I never imagined I would be in and trying to work through the challenges of that while trying to play is something I’m struggling with,” Williams said in a statement.
“I made a mistake, and I’m sorry for that. I’ve attempted ever since to do the right thing and the right thing for me, my family, friends and everyone else is to have some time out.
“The strain on my family and the distraction this has created for the club is something I’m not comfortable with.”
Williams has left the Magpies’ training camp on the Gold Coast and will not play in Sunday’s practice match against the Suns.
The Magpies have said Williams, who finished seventh in the best and fairest last season, will continue to train in preparation for a possible return in late April.
He will also continue his weekly volunteer work with the Salvation Army, having begun this in early 2013 as punishment for the incident.
In the statement, Collingwood also said: “Marley has shown great remorse for what occurred and accepts responsibility for what he did. Collingwood does not condone violence of any description, and does not want to understate what transpired, but over the past 15 months Marley has been an exemplary member of the football club.”
Speaking on the Gold Coast on Friday morning, former Magpies skipper Nick Maxwell said Williams had left the camp early because he needed a break.
“Just to get him away from here, get his head clear, rather than train with us flat out,” Maxwell said.
“Obviously, it’s been tough for him. The last couple of weeks have been tough for him and long days, so we’re just trying to give him a break from it all.”
Maxwell said the Magpies were offering the 20-year-old as much support as they could.
“We’re there for him,” Maxwell said.
“There’s not much you can do. If he wants to come and have a chat to you he can, if he doesn’t, and wants to keep it to himself, then he does.
“All you can do is be there and offer that support and if he takes it up, he takes it up.”
While Williams has opted to stand down, West Coast player Murray Newman has been allowed to continue playing while also awaiting his sentencing hearing for a similar incident.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.