Hardwick fuming after Freo late change
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has effectively accused Fremantle of pulling a swifty, questioning whether the AFL club’s late call-up of ruckman Aaron Sandilands on Saturday was in the spirit of the game.
But Dockers coach Ross Lyon is adamant there was nothing sinister in the move, saying Jonathon Griffin suffered a legitimate groin injury in the warm-up and needed to be replaced.
Sandilands, who had been sidelined since round 11 due to a toe injury, wasn’t listed in Fremantle’s match-day 22 when the team sheets were submitted 90 minutes before bouncedown.
But with just minutes remaining before the scheduled start, Sandilands was rushed in after Griffin tweaked his groin in the warm-up.
Hardwick was left fuming by the late switch and his mood wasn’t helped by the fact Sandilands ended up playing a key role in Fremantle’s 22-point victory.
When asked whether he thought Griffin’s injury was genuine, a measured Hardwick replied: “I think everyone knows the answer to that question in here.
“Look, that (late switch) is within the rules. Whether it’s in the spirit of the game, I don’t know.”
Lyon was quick to hit back at the insinuation, saying Hardwick should be careful not to make uninformed accusations.
“There is no ruse here. If anyone’s calling us liars, they’d want to be really strong and have strong evidence,” Lyon said.
“I understand what people think, but I’m not sitting here telling lies. Like Nat Fyfe, everyone thought he didn’t roll (his ankle) in his hotel room. Guess what, he did.
“I’m on record here, this is bona fide and legitimate. And if anyone wants (to make) accusations outside of that they’re well and truly out of line and want to be really careful.”
Sandilands tallied 18 possessions, 33 hit-outs and nine clearances in the 13.16 (94) to 11.6 (72) win, which thrust Fremantle into eighth spot and ended the slim finals hopes of Richmond (9-11).
But the win could come at a major cost for the Dockers, who suffered a series of minor injuries to key players.
Skipper Matthew Pavlich almost didn’t play due to tightness in his hamstring and Achilles tendon and an early knock to his right leg didn’t help.
The 276-game veteran failed to hit top pace and needed treatment on his hamstring, calf and groin throughout the match, with his availability for next weekend’s crunch clash with North Melbourne in some doubt.
Star midfielder Nat Fyfe tweaked the left ankle he rolled the previous week while Tendai Mzungu injured his shoulder late in the match.
Richmond defender Ben Griffiths was taken to hospital after being knocked unconscious in a head-first tumble to the turf in the second quarter.