ST KILDA veteran Seb Ross has explained his decision to miss the Saints' loss to Adelaide, saying he was 'torn' over his club and family obligations.
Dual best-and-fairest winner Ross flew back to Victoria to be with his wife Marnie, who last month gave birth to twins.
Leading goalkicker Tim Membrey also left the Saints' hub in Sydney to return to Melbourne to support heavily pregnant wife Emily.
Already reeling from giving up a 36-point lead against the Crows, the club's handling of the family issues involving key forward Membrey and midfielder Ross has come under question.
A Footy Classified report on Monday night detailed some alleged frustration leaders at St Kilda had expressed about Ross and Membrey missing the game.
Ross took to Instagram on Wednesday night to address the commentary around his decision.
"This was never meant to be about me, and the last few days have not only been tough on my family, but also an unnecessary distraction for the footy club I love," he wrote.
“When we were told we would be staying in Sydney longer than originally planned, I made the decision to go home and support my wife and our three young children with the intention - and hope - that I could apply for a border exemption and return in time to face Adelaide. When the team was eventually granted a fly-in, fly-out exemption to Queensland the Thursday before the game, my chances of joining them faded.
“But I always knew that was the risk.
“Although I was torn between my club obligations and my family obligations, it was a risk I was willing to take. I knew I needed to be at home to help my wife Marnie with our five-week-old twin boys Vinny and Henley and daughter Charlotte.
“This was never to be about me not honouring my commitment to the St Kilda Football Club - the club that I’m committed to and am proud to represent. This was simply me supporting what I cherish most, my family.
“Thank you to Ratts and the club for allowing me to explore every option with respect to playing or leaving and then supporting me when my decision was made.
“I also want to take this opportunity to thank our truly loyal St Kilda fans and supporters and those within the wider AFL community for your heartfelt support over the last few days.
“To that end, I can’t wait to run out there alongside the boys when we take on the Tigers and I hope you’ll be cheering us on.
“Together We Rise.”
CEO Matt Finnis said officials debated the decision to allow the pair to return home.
"Like any organisation that's in a highly competitive industry, we debate these decisions," Finnis told SEN radio on Wednesday morning.
"But once decisions are made, we get behind the players and we give them our support and we get on with our business.
"What we did was to check if there's anything more that the club could do to help the guys feel support.
"We'll always put family first and they'll be supported with those decisions.
"You can be disappointed, but you can be understanding. I don't think emotions are mutually exclusive."
Meanwhile, Finnis believes the Saints' horror season has exposed some concerning issues at the underperforming club.
At 5-8, the Saints' ambitions of backing up their first finals appearance in nine years are all but over.
St Kilda appeared to be a team on the rise after defeating the Western Bulldogs in an elimination final last year but have been a shadow of that firing unit with key players on the sideline.
Rowan Marshall, Zak Jones, Jade Gresham, Jarryn Geary have all missed extended periods because of injury, while key duo Tim Membrey and Seb Ross sat out last Saturday night's devastating loss against Adelaide due to family reasons.
Finnis said the club's hierarchy was already reviewing what has gone wrong in 2021.
"I think last year was a unique year and when I reflect on that, I'm really proud that it seems we were able to handle the year better than some other clubs," he said.
"There would have been a whole range of circumstances behind that, including the fact we had a pretty good run with player availability (up until the semi-finals).
"So what that means when you come into this year is the player availability challenges we've had have exposed some of the underlying issues that were probably already there, we just hadn't addressed them to the extent that we need."