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AFL News: Clarkson apologises for 'emotional' 'c--ksucker' spray, Webster facing lengthy ban

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4th March, 2024
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St Kilda defender Jimmy Webster has been sent directly to the AFL Tribunal for his high, late bump on North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin that landed the midfielder in concussion protocols.

Webster faces a lengthy ban, while Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson has apologised for “inappropriate” comments he made during an expletive-laden spray to the defender and his teammate in the wake of the hit.

Kangaroos coach Clarkson was furious about the incident and reportedly used the word “c*er” during an exchange of words with Webster and fellow Saints defender Dougal Howard at the quarter-time interval of Sunday’s practice game.

The incident left Clarkson “deeply disturbed”.

“Jy has had a great pre-season and has now had three concussions in 12 months, and I was so disappointed to see him leave the field in that way,” Clarkson said on Monday.

“At the quarter-time break I voiced my displeasure to St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard as they made their way to the quarter-time huddle.

“This was an exchange that was emotional in defence of our captain, but unnecessary and the language I used was inappropriate.

“I have reached out to (Saints coach) Ross Lyon and both the St Kilda players to apologise.”

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It is unclear whether the AFL will investigate the exchange between Clarkson, Webster and Howard and the alleged homophobic slur used.

Webster’s bump was classed by the match review officer as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact.

It means Webster will face the tribunal rather than being able to accept an early guilty plea.

Webster and Saints football boss David Misson on Monday both issued statements about the incident.

“I deeply regret my actions in (Sunday’s) game,” Webster said.

“I’ve reached out to Jy and cannot understate my remorse.

“My thoughts are with Jy and his family, and I hope he has a speedy and successful recovery.”

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Misson labelled the incident “out of character” for Webster, “who has proven to be a fair and honest player”.

Saints coach Lyon conceded there is “no defence” for Webster’s actions.

“It’s just a very difficult situation. Really concerned for both lads, in particular Jy because it was very heavy physical contact,” Lyon told reporters on Monday.

“We’ve already seen … that if you’re going to choose to head down that (bumping) path you’re going to get in trouble.”

“Clearly there’s no defence to it. We always support the person (to) change the behaviour.

“We’ve got to continue to evolve the game, but we’re devastated for both boys involved and there’s not much, obviously, I can do about it. If we could change things we would, but we can’t.”

The Webster-Simpkin incident sparked a melee, and North Melbourne’s Tristan Xerri and Bailey Scott and St Kilda recruit Liam Henry have been offered fines of $1250 for their involvement.

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Saints ruckman Rowan Marshall can accept a fine of $1875 for his second offence of engaging in a melee/wrestle.

The incident happened four days after Port Adelaide forward Sam Powell-Pepper received a four-game suspension for a bump that concussed Adelaide defender Mark Keane.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said the latest incidents showed his players they should avoid bumping opponents at all costs.

“It’s pretty clear: don’t do it,” Goodwin told reporters on Monday.

“We’ll train our players around the contest. I’ve said this for a long time, there’s really no need to bump … other than when it’s in a one-on-one ground-ball contest.

“It’s more about tackling and doing that correctly, and making sure we’re able to turn at the right time to tackle the right way.

“We’ll keep training our players that way and educating them.

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Alastair Clarkson.

Alastair Clarkson. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Dees lock in Oliver for Opening Round

Melbourne have confirmed star midfielder Clayton Oliver will suit up for the Demons in their Opening Round clash with Sydney, despite a limited pre-season due to a turbulent summer off-field.

Oliver played limited minutes with the Dees’ VFL players for part of their scratch match against Richmond, before again featuring in VFL affiliate Casey’s official practice match against Carlton last week.

Having taken an indefinite break from the club midway through pre-season to prioritise his mental health, the 26-year old was in grave doubt to feature for the start of the season at AFL level, but a Herald Sun report confirmed he will face the Swans at the SCG on Thursday night, having been deemed match fit and ready to go.

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The Dees have also locked top draft pick Caleb Windsor and wingman Blake Howes in to make their AFL debuts, while former Saint Jack Billings will also don the red and blue for premiership points for the first time.

For the Swans, ruckman Brodie Grundy is expected to play his first game at the Swans since being traded from the Demons late last year.

Clayton Oliver of the Demons kicks the ball

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Saint’s family’s vile response to Simpkin hit emerges

St Kilda defender Jimmy Webster’s shocking high hit on North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin has received condemnation from around the footy world – but not, it seems, from those closest to him.

The Herald Sun revealed a series of vile comments made by Webster’s family on social media in relation to the incident, with his sister Alysha commenting ‘Goodnight’ on a video post of the hit.

Alysha Webster’s comment on the AFL’s Facebook video of brother Jimmy’s hit has since been deleted. (Image via News Corp)

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Webster’s brother Jay wrote ‘Fair bump play on’ in a separate post.

The incident left Simpkin with his third concussion in the last nine months, with the Kangaroos confirming he will enter the AFL’s concussion protocols; however, they are confident he will recover in time for their Round 1 clash with GWS on March 16 – one day after he will be cleared to return under the league’s 12-day minimum rest period.

Webster is expected to be sent straight to the Tribunal for the incident, and faces a ban of six matches or more.

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL set to clamp down on concussion protocols

The AFL is set to tighten its concussion protocols ahead of the 2024 season, with clubs told of pending changes to how players will be cleared to return from head knocks.

While SEN reports the minimum 12-day rest period will remain, the process for players who enter the protocols being passed fit to return will now be far more stringent.

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Currently, players are permitted to return on the 12th day after the day on which the concussion occurred, and need to have completed a graded loading program and received a medical all-clear to play again.

The protocols have caused controversy in recent years; in 2023, Port Adelaide were handed a hefty fine after opting not to submit star defender Aliir Aliir to a SCAT5 concussion test after a nasty head clash with teammate Lachie Jones.

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