West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett has apologised “unreservedly” for a confrontation at Perth Airport last Sunday when the club’s integrity officer, Peter Staples, jostled cameramen shooting footage of Nic Naitanui’s arrival from Melbourne after his second serious knee injury in two years.
“We made a mess of the whole thing and we put Pete in a very ordinary position. All parts were extremely poorly handled by us,” Nisbett said.
“Peter is extremely apologetic, as is the club. We apologise unreservedly to those offended.”
Staples pushed and shoved Channel Seven cameraman Simon Hydzik and Channel Nine’s Chris Lange after Naitanui was spotted waiting to be picked up by a car at an airport loading dock after being ushered out of a side entrance at the airport terminal to avoid media.
The Weekend West understands Staples contacted and apologised to both cameramen yesterday.
Media had gone to the airport under a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Eagles media co-ordinator Ben Roberts that, provided they did not approach Naitanui for an interview, they could get footage from a respectful distance as he came through the terminal and interview club captain Shannon Hurn.
Witnesses said that even though that agreement was not honoured by the Eagles, the cameramen still stood a respectful distance from Naitanui after spotting him and running over to get footage. No approach was made to interview him.
“It was our fault completely. We were responsible for all of the things that happened. We didn’t manage it well,” Nisbett said.
He said Staples was trying to manage a “very traumatised young man” at the airport.
“That was Peter’s only intention and he got it horribly wrong,” Nisbett said. “He knows that. He is very embarrassed by the whole situation,” Nisbett said. “We are extremely apologetic about the whole thing. We have said that to anyone who has wanted to ask and we have said that to the AFL.”
Media were also incensed by comments made by coach Adam Simpson on SEN during the week which claimed that the Eagles had asked for privacy for Naitanui but not received it.
Nisbett said Simpson regretted his comments. “Adam came and saw me after that interview and said he got it horribly wrong with some of the wording. He was aware that he had messed it up,” he said.