Still plenty of love for battling Barry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Still plenty of love for battling Barry

By James Dampney 15/06/2008 04:53:29 PM Comments (0)

Sydney's leadership group made it quite clear to Barry Hall they felt totally let down by his attack on Brent Staker and it would take plenty of time to earn their forgiveness.

For a man who held aloft the premiership cup with coach Paul Roos in 2005, his unprovoked punch on the West Coast defender went completely against the club's culture and robbed them of their main marking target and best goal kicker for a third of the season.

The hype surrounding the incident bordered on hysteria, with Hall labelled a "weak mongrel" by Staker's parents and some even calling for him to be charged with assault.

But, like a parent showing they still love their child despite their latest act of petulance, the Swans proved in Hall's return from a seven-game ban against St Kilda on Saturday night they are still on his side.

Hall missed his first two set shots in the 35-point win that put Sydney into the top four, but when he finally slotted his first goal late in the first term, co-captain Brett Kirk was the first man on hand.

A warm hug and a friendly pat on the head would've done wonders for Hall's confidence, while Amon Buchanan then did the same.

"(The players) were really honest with him, but equally once it was all over they made sure they told him they wanted him back in the team and respected him and needed him back in the team," coach Paul Roos said.

"He's a really good character around the club and everyone does enjoy his company, he's generally a good fella.

"I think they showed that the players. (The suspension) was something they didn't want to happen, it did, now it's time to get on with it and support him as the players did (against St Kilda)."

The bottom line for a playing group that has reinvented itself in pursuit of another flag is Sydney are a significantly better team with Hall.

Perhaps helping him in his fight for redemption is the fact Sydney have coped remarkably well without him.

The win over the Saints was their fifth straight ahead of next week's clash with bottom side Melbourne in Canberra.

A forward line of Hall, a sprightly Michael O'Loughlin in terrific form, Ryan O'Keefe and newcomer Henry Playfair can cause headaches for any opposition.

And there are stern tests to come.

After the Demons and a bye, the Swans face Collingwood (home) and Hawthorn (away), plus Geelong in round 20.

"We stressed after the game how important next week is," Roos said.

"If we can get over the line against Melbourne ... it'll give us six in a row and then we get a weekend off.

"The guys can re-group and we've got a big game after that (Collingwood).

"So next week's a massive game for us to make sure we can capitalise and get another win on the board."

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