Luke Shuey free kick the right decision, says AFL

Josh Elliott Editor

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    The AFL’s umpiring department says the decision to award Luke Shuey a free kick that led to a match-winning goal after the siren in Saturday night’s elimination final was the correct one.

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    Shuey was tackled by Port Adelaide’s Jared Polec with less than a minute to go in the extra time period of last night’s final, and while the original point of contact was below the shoulder, the free kick was paid after Polec’s tackle slipped high when Luke Shuey raised his arm.

    The umpiring department spokesman said the only question asked of umpire Chris Donlon, who awarded the free kick, was if there had been high contact in the tackle, which Donlon said there was. A second umpire near the contest supported Donlon’s decision.

    The AFL’s ticking off of the free kick will no doubt cause consternation for some, as it appears to be diametrically opposed the rule clarification announced at the start of the season which said that a free kick should not be paid if the ball carrier is responsible for the high contact.

    An AFL statement in December 2016 read:

    “The first assessment for the umpire will continue to be whether the tackle was applied in an appropriate manner.

    “Umpires will be asked to call play on when a tackle is assessed as reasonable (no swinging arm or contact being incidental) and the player with the ball is responsible for the high contact.

    “It is important to note that at all times the ball carrier retains protection against high or indiscriminate tackling.”

    Given the tackle was applied below the shoulder and only became a high tackle after Shuey raised his arm, it is difficult to understand how the AFL could consider it a legitimate free kick under this interpretation.

    Shuey was asked on Sunday whether he had contributed to the high contact, but decided to leave the answer up to the pundits.

    “Oh, that’s for you blokes to decide,” Shuey said. “It’s irrelevant to us, we are worried about moving on to GWS.”

    Port Adelaide senior coach Ken Hinkley was asked about the free kick as well, but preferred to focus on his team’s inability to convert their own chances on goal.

    “Kick straight, it’s been our problem for large part of the year, we’ve worked really hard at it all year and haven’t been able to convert the way we should,” he said.

    “It costs and hurts and obviously tonight more than you can imagine.”

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.