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AFL News: Verdict in for Suns skipper on Zorko squirrel-grip, Hinkley defends Power doctor over concussion controversy

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3rd August, 2023
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Gold Coast co-captain Touk Miller will miss the Suns’ must-win clash with Adelaide on Saturday, after accepting a one-match suspension for ‘conduct unbecoming’ in a much-publicised incident with Brisbane veteran Dayne Zorko.

Miller was accused by Zorko of grabbing his genitals during the Suns’ QClash win, with the Brisbane midfielder even taking to radio to question the lack of sanction by the AFL earlier in the week.

“It’s interesting, you’re allowed to grab the groin region now and squeeze it and do whatever you want to it,” Zorko told SENQ Breakfast on Monday.

“So that’s an interesting rule that’s been cleared by the AFL.

We had really good evidence to support the case… they’ve set the precedent now.

“I tell you what, my groin region is quite bruised at the moment. It’s funny how that all happens.”

“The MRO reviewed video of the passage of play and with the evidence before him, including the medical report and there being no complaint from the player or club to the AFL, the MRO ultimately determined the vision was inconclusive and did not lay a charge,” the AFL said in a statement released on Thursday evening.


“In the period following the match, further information came to light including as a result of Zorko making public comment in relation to the incident and by the provision of a further medical report.

“Based on the information that was subsequently presented, the AFL conducted an investigation in which both players were interviewed and the vision was reviewed.

“That investigation found that Miller made contact with the groin region of Zorko in a manner that caused Zorko pain and discomfort and ultimately constituted conduct unbecoming in breach of AFL Rule 2.3(a).

“In reliance on that breach of AFL Rule 2.3(a), the AFL imposed a sanction of one match on Touk Miller which he has accepted.”

The Suns have been resolute in their defence of Miller, with club football operations manager Wayne Campbell saying they are ‘extremely disappointed’ in the verdict.

“We accept the AFL’s decision but as a club we are extremely disappointed in the outcome,” Campbell said on Thursday.

“Touk is the captain of our football club and has built a reputation as a fair and strong leader who is admired by the entire AFL community.


“He is one of the most highly respected players in the competition and it’s disappointing his integrity and character has been tarnished during this process.”

Miller and Zorko have a history of on-field altercations back to 2018, when they clashed after a Suns’ QClash win with the Sun having successfully tagged the Lion to just 10 disposals.

Hinkley defends Power doctor over concussion controversy

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley concedes Mark Fisher made a “big mistake” not putting Aliir Aliir through a concussion test but has thrown his support behind the club doctor.

Power officials have come under intense scrutiny during what Hinkley said had been a “tough week” for the club, which is facing AFL sanction over the response to Aliir’s head clash with teammate Lachie Jones.

The partner of former player Sam Mayes added fuel to the fire when she publicly detailed “scary” incidents around concussion during the utility’s time at Port Adelaide.

The heat comes with head injuries now a massive issue in the game. A number of former players are suing the league and their clubs, seeking compensation for the effects of concussion from their careers.


“We have had some issues that we’d much rather not have had but they are certainly being dealt with the best they can possibly be dealt with,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.

Jones was substituted out of the Showdown loss to Adelaide last Saturday night because of a migraine, but Aliir returned to the field.

Fisher has since conceded the 28-year-old should have been put through a concussion test immediately after his head knock.

“It’s a big mistake, but no one sets out to make any mistake in whatever type of job we do, particularly as a doctor,” Hinkley said.

“He’s doing his absolute best and has done great service for this footy club for a long, long period of time.

“We understand concussion’s a massive issue and everyone’s working towards a better outcome for concussion.”


Hinkley said Fisher will be on regular duties when Port Adelaide attempt to arrest their three-match losing skid in a clash with Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday, 

“It’s a really tough question to be throwing out, ‘Do we lack trust in Mark Fisher?’. That’s not the case at all,” Hinkley said.

“He himself has said he got it wrong and we should be able to go, ‘You know what, he’s got a lot of runs on the board’.

“He’s done a lot of good things in his profession that we should give him some respect for.”

Hinkley said Aliir and Jones are both feeling “pretty good” in their recoveries from the collision, having shown some delayed symptoms consistent with concussion.

“Unfortunately they’re both in the concussion protocols so they’ll be unavailable to play (against Geelong),” Hinkley said.

“But the right thing is they do have the rest and we get them back fit and ready to go next week.”


Mayes’ partner Cassie Burton this week said the current spotlight on Port Adelaide’s handling of concussion “doesn’t surprise me” and made her “sick”.

Burton claimed Mayes played concussed during his time at the Power.

Hinkley said Port Adelaide have reached out to Mayes, who now plays for SANFL club North Adelaide.

“As a club we’ve spoken to Sam and Sam has no issues with the way we looked after Sam,” Hinkley said.


Power coach Ken Hinkley looks on

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

‘I’d be filthy’ – Cornes blasts Hardwick backflip as Suns confirm chase


Gold Coast are stepping up their bid to sign Damien Hardwick as their next AFL coach, with chief executive Mark Evans flying to Europe.

According to several media reports on Wednesday, Evans is to meet with the three-time Richmond premiership coach in Italy during Hardwick’s holiday.

There is also speculation if Hardwick is open to coaching the Suns they will table a five-year deal, with reports circling that the AFL could foot around $1 million worth of his substantial pay packet in an ambassadorial role.

Evans’ trip comes after last month’s sacking of Stuart Dew, who had coached the Suns since 2018.

Hardwick dramatically quit Richmond in May, saying he felt he had run out of ways to lift his players.

Gold Coast have not made the finals since they joined the league in 2011.

The Suns refused to comment on Evans, while the Gold Coast chief executive was also contacted.


In June, Hardwick said he was already missing the game.

However, his coaching backflip has infuriated outspoken media presenter – and Hardwick’s former Port Adelaide premiership teammate – Kane Cornes, who said on SEN Tigers supporters have a right to be ‘filthy’ with their triple-premiership coach.

“If I was a Richmond fan, I’d be absolutely filthy,” Cornes told SEN’s Sportsday.

“He’s traded all their draft picks, he’s bolstered the midfield, he was contracted until the end of 2024.

“He lasted nine games in 2023, citing burnout – and now he’s going to coach a rival a couple of weeks later.

“It’s a bizarre story to me, and I love Damien Harwick and I love what he’s done. But I’m sceptical of the whole thing.”


Cornes also advised caution on the Suns’ part, suggesting the burnout that caused Hardwick to suddenly depart the Tigers may not have entirely been cured.

“Coaching is a job where you need energy. You need to be all in,” he said.

“You don’t want to come back in January. You don’t want to be having time off. You don’t want to be burnt out.

“This club needs to play finals. It needs to play finals next year.”

(with AAP)

Damien Hardwick. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Bombers’ young gun’s debut to create unwanted stat


Essendon will unveil young gun Elijah Tsatas for his AFL debut against West Coast on Saturday afternoon.

The 18-year old, who was taken with pick 5 in last year’s draft, suffered a knee injury in pre-season that wiped out the first half of his 2023, but strong VFL form in recent weeks has earned him a promotion to the senior team for the first time.

Tsatas’ seven VFL games have yielded an average of 25 disposals, four tackles and three marks, including a 22-touch effort in the Bombers’ loss to Sydney last weekend.

So good was the ball magnet as a junior that he won the Oakleigh Chargers’ best and fairest in 2022 despite playing just six NAB League games.

However, his debut will create an unwanted stat for the Bombers: born on October 18, 2004, he will become the first Essendon player to not have been born for their most recent finals win, which happened 44 days earlier in the 2004 elimination final against Melbourne.

Giants re-sign boom free agent


GWS’ stunning turnaround in 2023 is only getting better, with boom free agent Harry Himmelberg turning his back on significant rival interest to sign a whopping six-year contract extension.

The deal, which according to SEN is worth around $800,000 per season, will tie the swingman to the club until at least the end of 2029.

Having haemorrhaged talent in recent years, including the salary cap crisis-caused departure of gun midfield duo Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto to Richmond last year and the loss of Jeremy Cameron to Geelong, Himmelberg’s looming re-signing is a significant coup for the Giants, having looked set to lose him to crosstown Sydney at times during the year.

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According to News Corp, a recent dinner with captain Toby Greene and senior club figures played a key role in convincing the 27-year old to commit to the Giants.

Having won seven consecutive games to surge not just into September calculations, but with a chance at a home final now too, the Giants are thriving under new coach Adam Kingsley.