The AFL has reportedly ticked off Port Adelaide’s handling of concussion protocols after a controversial incident in their Thursday night loss to Richmond.
According to SEN’s Sam Edmund, the league is satisfied the Power and club doctor Mark Fisher complied by the code’s guidelines, after captain Tom Jonas and Zak Butters swiftly returned to the field following a nasty head clash.
Edmund reports the AFL has responded to his query with a statement.
“The Chief Medical Officer has reviewed the HawkEye vision of the collision last night between Port Adelaide players Jonas and Butters. He has also reviewed the management of the players at the time including the sideline assessment and HawkEye evaluation by the club doctors,” the statement reads.
“Ultimately, there was no clinical indication of concussion that warranted further investigation and testing, thus the club doctors allowing both players to return to the field.”
The news comes after Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley fired back at critics of the club’s medical staff following the match.
Club captain Jonas and young talent Butters were both bleeding from the face after colliding, but both returned to the field within seven minutes of the incident, sparking controversy. The standard AFL concussion test runs for 15 minutes, which would have ruled them out of the rest of the match.
However, speaking after the match, Hinkley has staunchly defended veteran club doctor Mark Fisher’s call to clear Jonas and Butters.
“I gather there’d be some conversation around the collision, but people get cuts in games of football and they don’t get concussion,” the coach said.
“I’ve got a doctor who’s been with our footy club 25 years, and the conversation between our doctor and our football manager during the game was these boys have got no issue with concussion.
“If anyone’s got a challenge on that and they feel more qualified than Mark Fisher, who’s a 25-year AFL doctor, feel free.
“But I think you’d want to be really, really sure you’re not trying to umpire or make some calls from outside the fence when you have no knowledge, we’ve got a very experienced doctor who has the utmost respect in the AFL.”
However, the Power have previously been fined for not complying with the league’s concussion regulations, with the club docked $20,000 in 2016 after the club didn’t notify the AFL’s interchange official that Hamish Hartlett was being taken for a head injury assessment.
Hartlett would pass the initial SCAT3 Test and returned to the field after only five minutes, with the league saying at the time he should have had to wait the 15-minute period to enable Fisher to access vision of the incident in which Hartlett received the knock.
Hinkley said having spoken with both Jonas and Butters, he remains confident both have avoided a concussion.
“I spoke to both boys in the rooms straight after the game, they weren’t laying down and they weren’t fainting and they weren’t doing anything silly,” he said.
“They were talking to me very clearly: ‘I’m gonna have a big black eye, but I’m pretty good. Everything’s okay’.
“They’re tough players too, we shouldn’t forget that, how tough, because that’s a hit. Those who don’t think the game is tough, that’s a hit.”
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin hopes the club can move on from the much-publicised fight between Steven May and Jake Melksham, as the Demons prepare to face Collingwood in the annual Queen’s Birthday clash.
May was handed a one-match club imposed suspension for his role in the fight, amid accusations he taunted teammates about missing the 2021 grand final. Melksham required surgery on his hand during the week.
Speaking on Friday morning, Goodwin admitted the week had been ‘disappointing’, but expressed hope the incident would ‘galvanise’ the playing group.
“I think Max [Gawn] summed it up really well saying it was embarrassing for everyone else involved at our footy club,” Goodwin said.
“We’ve worked really hard to build what we’ve built internally, and obviously externally that’s shown out on the field.
“But as I‘ve said to the players, culture is never perfect and these things always come up; it’s what you do about them, how you react to them, how you learn from them… and that’s what we’ve done internally as a playing group.
“It’s been a great chance to reset ourselves as a playing group internally about what we really want to stand for and continually stand for, and use this as a lesson to get better.
“Culture is never complete, it’s never finished, it’s always ongoing and you’ve got to nurture it. You got to continue to remind yourself about what’s important.
“That’s the thing about culture, there’s gonna be mistakes and people will have behaviours that you don’t want to tolerate and you will have to address them. And we have, we’ve addressed it, we’ve given the sanctions out and we’ll move forward and learn from it.
“But in terms of the incident, it doesn’t mean that our playing group don’t love and care for each other. I’ve got four brothers and I’ve had a fight with all of them, it doesn’t mean I don’t love and care for them.
“We don’t tolerate violence one iota, but this isn’t going to define our playing group. They’re united, committed to the cause, they know they’ve made a mistake, and we’ll learn from and get better and move forward.
“Hopefully in time people will see this is a real galvanising time for us, where we’ve come together as one and continue that pathway forward to what we want to achieve.”
Goodwin also defended May, describing him as a ‘quality’ person and rebuffing suggestions the club should impose an alcohol ban on the temperamental star.
“He‘s done a lot of work on himself personally over long period of time. We’re really proud of how far he’s come as a person and he’s a quality person,” Goodwin said.
“He’s made a mistake and he’ll continue to work on himself… but he has enormous trust and respect within our playing group.
“He plays the game in a certain way. He’s worked really hard with our younger players to develop them. He’s got great standing within our playing group and he’ll continue to do that.
“He knows that he’s led them down and he’s broken some trust within the playing group, and he’ll work hard to build that back up. But knowing the character of Steven, he’ll go about that in the right way.”
Former Fremantle serial pest Hayden Ballantyne has urged Jack Ginnivan to ‘keep pissing off’ rival players and fans, as Collingwood coach Craig McRae admitted to ‘private conversations’ with his young star about his conduct.
Ginnivan has quickly become one of the league’s most polarising figures, with the 19-year old’s penchant for winning free kicks making him a target for the media and opposition fans alike.
However, speaking to 10 News Perth, Ballantyne, no stranger to controversy during a decorated 171-game career with Fremantle, revealed he’d reached out to Ginnivan to encourage the Magpie to keep on keeping on.
“Double down and go hard,” Ballantyne said.
“If it helps him five to 10 per cent and it helps the team win games, it’s not affecting anyone, he’s kicking goals, he’s playing good footy and he’s pissing off a lot of people and he’s doing his job, I reckon go for it.
“Keep doing you champ and don’t worry about the haters and get on with it. The kid can seriously play and I just hope he keeps backing it up with his football and doesn’t let any outside noise influence how he plays.”
However, McRae revealed on Thursday that he has had conversations with Ginnivan about ‘the player he wants to be’.
“I had some private conversations with Jack … I won’t add any more to that, but we want to have the back of all the players,” he said.
“I said to the whole group that I will have your back as long as you play for the team and do the right things for us and it was a similar message along those lines.”