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AFL NEWS: Riewoldt's plea after Fisher drug charge, Docker faces 'serious misconduct' ban, Dangerfield out

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23rd May, 2022
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St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt has made an impassioned plea to the AFL and players’ union to provide more adequate support to players as they transition out of the professional game.

Riewoldt’s call on Monday night came with former teammate Sam Fisher in jail after he was charged with trafficking large commercial quantities of illicit drugs.

Fisher, 39, played 228 games for the Saints before retiring in 2016.

“A lot of his close teammates knew that he had some issues, but to this extent, once it was all laid bare last week, I think a lot of us were surprised at just how bad the situation had become,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy.

“But it landed heavy and, obviously, straight away you start to think about Sam and the situation he finds himself in, and his family and those close to him, and then you do a little bit of inward reflecting around ‘what more could we have done?'”

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Riewoldt, a long-standing captain during Fisher’s time at St Kilda from 2004 to 2016, conceded questions would be asked of the club leaders and playing group from that era.

Fisher-Riewoldt

Former Saints Sam Fisher (left) and Nick Riewoldt. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

“There have been a lot of Sam’s teammates who have done as much as they possibly could, myself included, and some that have gone to extraordinary levels involving conversations with family and friends and those really close to Sam,” Riewoldt said.

“As a group I think we did as much as we possibly could for Sam.

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“But at a time like this you really realise how out of your depth you are as a teammate, when a player is facing challenges of the kind that Sam has faced.

“I understand those questions will come about us and our group and the leadership and all that sort of stuff, but you can put your head on the pillow knowing you did as much as you could.”

Riewoldt said he approached the AFL Players Association with his concerns about Fisher but had received a delayed and inadequate response.

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The union has reportedly provided some support to Fisher but details are guarded by confidentiality provisions.

Riewoldt said the level of support for players exiting the AFL system is one of the biggest issues facing the league and players’ union, declaring “enough is enough”.

“There are not a lot of Sam Fisher-type incidents that we’re hearing about now but there are a lot of players that are slipping through the cracks,” Riewoldt said.

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“That would be my assertion and my experience, that so many players right now are slipping through the cracks of the AFL system and when they come out the other side their lives are ending up in pretty horrific condition.

“Let this be the line in the sand moment. This is the cautionary tale.

“Something needs to be done because players and teammates can do as much as they like but they’re not experts in the space and they need help.”

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Riewoldt said his plea is not about garnering sympathy for players.

“Players are paid really well, they’ve got all of these opportunities available to them as they go through the game, but somewhere along the line it’s not working because the condition that too many players are finding themselves in post-career is not at the level that it should be,” he said.

“We can do more as an industry and I think the AFLPA, in particular, need to take the lead on this cause and stop these situations occurring.”

Riewoldt also took aim at the AFL’s illicit drugs policy, of which he has been a vocal critic in the past.

“At the moment the policy that exists is one that allows players wiggle room to tap into those things,” he said. “I think that is an issue. Players who take drugs in the AFL system do so because the system allows them to.”

Docker sent to AFL Tribunal

Fremantle forward Sam Switkowski has been sent straight to the AFL Tribunal for a “serious misconduct” chicken wing tackle on Collingwood’s Jack Ginnivan.

After bringing Ginnivan to ground late in Sunday’s match at Optus Stadium, Switkowski grabbed his opponent’s wrist and pinned it behind the 19-year-old’s own back.

Switkowski continued to apply upward pressure on Ginnivan’s arm until the umpire blew the whistle for a ball up.

Although Ginnivan wasn’t hurt in the incident, the AFL match review officer deemed the offence was “serious misconduct”, and Switkowski has been sent to tribunal.

“I would say he knew what he was doing,” former Melbourne star Garry Lyon told On The Couch. 

“He (Ginnivan) got up in the end and was OK. But when you’re starting to jam their arm up their back it means that you’re going to be responsible for that. 

“If he gets a week or two weeks then he’s only got himself to blame.”

Chicken wing tackles aren’t common in the AFL, but in 2012 two-time Brownlow medallist Chris Judd received a four-week ban for one such offence against North Melbourne’s Leigh Adams. 

Judd’s tackle was more serious than Switkowski’s given that Judd was third man in and his opponent was injured in the incident. 

Ginnivan earned the ire of Fremantle fans in the final term of Sunday’s match when he outmarked Brennan Cox and celebrated in front of the Dockers’ faithful while he strolled in to kick the easiest of goals.

Magpies coach Craig McRae smiled when asked what he thought of the early celebration, which came a short time before Switkowski’s tackle on Ginnivan.

“What do you do there? You want them to be themselves,” McRae said.

“Kick the goal and then celebrate with your teammates might be the message.”

Dangerfield hobbled

Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield is unlikely to play again before the AFL club’s bye as the club takes a conservative approach to his recovery from another calf injury setback.

Dangerfield was substituted out of the Cats’ win over Port Adelaide on Saturday because of tightness in the same calf he injured earlier in the season

The previous injury – a strain in the same spot he had earlier corked – put him out of action for two weeks.

Dangerfield will now complete a mid-season training block in a bid to prepare him for the second half of the year.

It will likely rule him out of Geelong’s matches against Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs before the bye in round 13.

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats looks on with blood on his face

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“It is likely that a couple of weeks of training now would better serve Pat and provide the conditioning base required for the remainder of the season,” Geelong’s head of medical and conditioning services Harry Taylor said.

“Our medical and performance team are continuing to monitor Pat’s status.”

Rhys Stanley and Quinton Narkle were late withdrawals from the Port Adelaide clash because of ankle injuries and face tests in order to be cleared to take on Adelaide at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday.

“Rhys and Quinton were given every opportunity to play against Port Adelaide but unfortunately didn’t tick off the relevant medical and conditioning tests prior to the game,” Taylor said.

“They will continue with their reconditioning programs and will be assessed later in the week.”

Despite Dangerfield’s absence, Geelong will start hot favourites against his old club Adelaide.

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