GREG Williams' comments about this Sunday's clash between arch rivals Carlton and Essendon has opened up old wounds between the dual Brownlow medallist and 1987 Norm Smith medallist David Rhys-Jones.
Williams, who is working under Bombers coach John Worsfold as a specialist skills coach this season, told essendonfc.com.au on Wednesday: "It'll be a big game, I'm sure there will be a huge crowd and 'our boys' the Bombers … it's hard to say I'm a Bomber but I really am committed here, and I really hope the Bombers kick their arse."
When informed about Williams' comments by AFL.com.au, Rhys-Jones could barely contain his anger, labelling the dual Brownlow medallist a mercenary.
"That's almost laughable, it's almost treason," Rhys-Jones said. "I hope all of the Carlton supporters read it as it shows what he is.
"It's very disappointing for a former Carlton player to talk like that, but not surprising ..."
Rhys-Jones said he thought it was disrespectful by Williams to make those comments about his former club.
"You didn’t hear those sort of comments from guys such as Stephen Silvagni (when he was list manager at GWS Giants), Scott Camporeale or Brett Ratten, who have gone on to hold positions at other clubs," he said.
Rhys-Jones is president of the Carlton past players association, the Spirit of Carlton. While he is unable to attend Sunday's game because of family commitments, he will be taking a keen interest in the result.
"Now I know he's involved with it I'll be barracking twice as hard for Carlton," he said. "I hope the young boys play for the team as they should and not for themselves as he did."
Rhys-Jones and Williams are long-time sparring partners, dating back to a famous clash between the Sydney Swans and Carlton at the SCG in 1989.
In that game Rhys-Jones had his jaw broken by Williams. Williams was suspended for five matches, while Rhys-Jones was cleared of three charges of striking Williams.
They were later teammates at Carlton in 1992 when Williams was traded to the Blues before Rhys-Jones retired at the end of that season.
Rhys-Jones played 182 games between 1980-92, 76 with the Swans and 106 with the Blues, with the highlight being the 1987 premiership triumph over Hawthorn.
Williams finished his career at Carlton, playing 109 games with the Blues between 1992-97 after earlier stints with Geelong and Sydney. He won the Norm Smith Medal in 1995 as part of the Blues' last premiership victory over Geelong.