A stunning exposé into the infamous 2018 Adelaide Crows pre-season camp has uncovered fresh details about the horrors endured by the players involved and the reasons for why some have been left deeply scarred to this day.
The report, written by The Age reporter Sam McClure, revealed the players were “petrified” and “unnerved” when they were greeted by men who were carrying what looked to be automatic weapons, before being blindfolded on a bus with blacked out windows that took them to a location which was undisclosed.
However, one of the more disturbing revelations was how sensitive information that players had confided to club staff had likely been handed to the facilitators of the Collective Mind camp to be used in a “harness” activity.
According to McClure, Crows players are “certain” sensitive information was handed to Collective Mind boss Amon Woulfe and business partner Derek Leddie.
“In order to get out of the harness, the player would have to crawl on his hands and knees towards a combat knife that Wolfgang had set on the ground, about 10 metres away,” McClure wrote.
“Each player could choose two teammates in the group to sit on chairs and offer moral support. Nine other teammates were instructed to pull the other way.
“As the nine others pulled the player away from the knife, facilitators encouraged them to hurl abuse at him. At first, it was relatively harmless; “Come on, mate. You’re weak, you’ll give up!”
“But as the struggle increased, the insults became more personal.
“Episodes of childhood trauma, relationships with partners and incidents of domestic abuse were among the subjects referenced as players tried to crawl across the mud.
“In some cases, the information was so sensitive that players hadn’t even shared it with their partners.”
Speaking on the AFL Sunday Footy Show, McClure discussed his report, and particularly the “danger” involved in Woulfe and Leddie’s methods with the Crows players.
“Amon Woulfe and Derek Leddie, who were the founders and creators of Collective Mind, they were on the camp and they’re not registered psychologists,” he said.
“They’ve got leadership backgrounds, but no psychology degree or qualifications.
“Jeff Bond OAM, who was the head of AIS psychology and is now at the Brumbies, he said that it is just fraught with danger, it is unbelievably dangerous to have unqualified people go into this field and start to meddle around in people’s minds.
“That’s what happened and we’ve seen what’s happened to the Adelaide Crows on and off the field since.”
Despite the disturbing revelations, McClure said he did not expect the AFL to open another investigation into the controversial pre-season camp.
“I don’t think we’ll see another investigation from the AFL,” he said.
“The AFL Players’ Association have both privately and I think to some degree, publicly, admitted that they just completely dropped the ball on this camp.
“The Integrity Unit investigation found that there was a lack of due diligence done by the club, I think that’s putting it pretty lightly.
“Whether some of the players decide to go down the legal route once they retire for what happened on that camp is up to them.”
McClure added that if there is legal action, that it will likely take place when the players involved are no longer playing in the AFL.
“One of the main reasons why there’s a lot of unnamed sources that have quotes in my piece is because no one wants to be the face of this while they’re still playing,” he said.
“You can absolutely understand that. They want this story to be out, but no one wants to be the face of it while they’re still playing.”
According to McClure, former Crows football boss Brett Burton, who was fired due to the fallout from the camp, told the players that the club had signed confidentiality agreements on their behalf, essentially gagging them from speaking out.
“A lot of the players, for one reason or another, felt like they were not allowed to talk about it, and still feel like that,” he said.
“They were told by Amon Woulfe and Collective Mind that the three different groups in the camp were not to share information with each other about what happened.
“So you had this situation where different players didn’t know what their teammates had been through because they weren’t in the same group.
“There’s no doubt at one time or another, the players, or a player, will their version of the story on what happened.”