AFL great reveals he received death threats over 'St Kilda schoolgirl'
RETIRED AFL great Nick Dal Santo received a death threat after being innocently drawn into the "St Kilda schoolgirl" controversy in 2010 when an explicit photo of him was released online without his permission.
In a typically frank Open Mike, to be screened on Fox Footy at 8.30pm on Tuesday, Dal Santo also spoke about St Kilda's agonising Grand Final near misses in 2009-2010, his belief he was strategically exited out of the Saints and how, in hindsight, he feels North Melbourne got it right in moving on him and veterans Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie and Michael Firrito at the end of last season.
And he said his cousin Marcus Bontempelli was already well on the way to being the best player in the family.
Dal Santo never met the "St Kilda schoolgirl", but he and Nick Riewoldt were unwittingly drawn into the furore when photos of them joking around on an end-of-season footy trip were stolen and released online.
"It wasn't great and it got a bit serious at the time," Dal Santo said. "(I) got death threats sent to our house ... when you get your face on a typed-up letter sent to your home address ... your face in the cross hair of a rifle and then the details of what a rifle can do to you and (how) it can pick you off from a certain distance that you won't even know about."
"You go 'OK, this is getting a little bit serious."
"(The photo) was taken 15 months earlier, we were in Las Vegas and we were about four days into a footy trip after the (20)09 Grand Final. There were about 10 of us mucking around.
"It was in a private environment ... the photos were pretty much stolen and then released to the public."
Dal Santo has made an outstanding start to his media career following 322 games with St Kilda and North Melbourne, and makes no apologies for his honest assessments of his former teammates Andrew Swallow and Todd Goldstein earlier in the season.
But he stressed his comments were more about the roles each were playing at the time, not their own abilities, and that he had had conversations with both players to explain.
The 33-year-old, who was twice placed in Brownlow Medals, said he felt as if he was being fazed out of the Saints during the 2013 season, which saw him move to North Melbourne at the end of that year.
"I wasn't pushed, but I felt at that time, I was in a situation where I didn't have many other options," he said. "I had a year left on a contract and felt like things were happening behind the scenes that I was well aware of.
"I sort of saw it coming. I spoke with (Nick) Riewoldt, (Leigh) Montagna, (Lenny) Hayes, (Adam) Schneider, and I said to them during the year, 'I don't think I am going to be here next year, they are trying to move me on, if not more of us.' It wasn't initially my choice (to leave), but ultimately I had to agree to go at the end of the year."
He was initially disappointed he was part of the Kangaroos' cull at the end of last season, but appreciated the honesty afforded him by coach Brad Scott.
"I felt physically and mentally I could still continue," he said. "I didn't agree with it at the time, and even sitting here now, I feel like I could still be playing. But on the other hand they (North Melbourne) are playing good footy and they are going in a different direction.
"They need to play the young players, so I am all for that. I sit here comfortably eight or nine months later saying 'good call'."
He said the Saints' teams of 2009-2010 remained as close as some premiership sides, even if they never quite managed to take out the ultimate prize, and would forever remain mates.