North Melbourne’s Jaidyn Stephenson has been roasted for his defensive efforts in the thrilling loss to Collingwood, with former AFL coach Ross Lyon accusing the $2.5m recruit of “taking the mickey”.
Lyon called Stephenson a “non competitor”In a damning attack on Triple M on Sunday, he was asked if he was truly committed to his life as an AFL footballer.
Lyon and fellow AFL commentator Kane Cornes highlighted Stephenson’s lack of physical commitment to the contest, with Cornes showing three separate “damning”Efforts from the clash with Pies
All the action from The F1 Austrian GP can be viewed on Kayo. Pre-race coverage begins at 9:30 PM AEST on Sunday. Racing starts live at 11PM. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now
“He physically does not compete,” Lyon lamented.
“He causes issues off the field, he’s getting overpaid and every time you pick a team you send a message – enough of Jaidyn Stephenson for me.
“If we’re seeing it, the North Melbourne supporters are seeing it. Would you want to walk down the race with him? I wouldn’t.
“This is a club on its knees. We talk about lives on the line, throwing your body. If (other players) can do it, you can do it. When it’s your turn, go.”
Stephenson has managed just 30 games for the Roos since he arrived in a last-minute trade from Collingwood at the end of 2020.
He signed a five-year deal with North Melbourne, worth a reported $2.5m. At the time, he pledged to build on his body in a bid to perform at his best.
“Obviously body size is something I need to work on. Hopefully it can help me improve that and it’ll take my football to the next step,” he said in 2020.
Less than a year into his new deal, Stephenson was hospitalised after breaking his hip trying to perform tricks on his BMX bike while drinking with mates.
Lyon questioned if Stephenson had applied himself when it came to his size.
“How many kilos do you think he’s put on since he’s been drafted? When you’ve got a full time nutritionist, you’ve got a full time gym person to take you through, dedicate you through development. He’s not applying himself,” Lyon said.
“He’s taking the mickey. When you sign that contract, you’re saying: ‘I’m going to dedicate myself, this is what I’ll do and you’ll pay me’. He’s not delivering.”
Cornes showed three separate efforts from Stephenson that were labelled “damning” on the Sunday Footy Show, and said the Roo was “physically not up to the standard”.
In the first, he fails to dive on the footy in the defensive 50, and allows the ball to get out of the contest resulting in a Collingwood behind.
The second, Stephenson leaves his direct opponent to try wait at an aerial contest, but the ball gets out and Collingwood kick a goal.
In the third, the Roo falls off a tackle on opponent Beau McCreery and coughs up a goal.
“Some players are tougher than others – we know that but he refuses to accept any contact in the game now,” Cornes said.
“I expect him to lose his place in the side next week. He’s been a disappointing recruit when you consider the money and the years he got at North Melbourne.
“I’d almost go as far as saying it did cost them the game.”
North Melbourne runner Brent Harvey attempted to defend the vision of Stephenson, confirming the 23-year-old injured his lower back and was subbed off before full time.
“I’ve certainly seen a shift in his training the last six or seven weeks,” he said on the Sunday Footy Show.
“He is getting serious. He didn’t finish the game yesterday. He got subbed off with a lower back injury. I’m not sure if that contributed to any of the vision that you showed.”
Lyon said Stephenson’s focus needed to be on his AFL career.
“He needs to apply himself to his football. There are some non negotiables when you run down the race about competing,” he said.