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AFL News: 'Letting the team down' - Sicily slammed, Pies legend's advice for Daicos, Saints make call on King ban

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25th March, 2024

Hawthorn captain James Sicily has been put on notice following the Hawks’ ugly loss to Melbourne, with a former great urging the star defender to ‘have a good hard look at himself’.

After suffering under a heavy tag in the Hawks’ Round 1 loss to Essendon, Sicily was more prolific against the Demons, finishing with 27 disposals and 13 marks as the Hawks played a keepings-off style in the first quarter especially.

However, it backfired spectacularly, with the Dees kicking five goals to a solitary behind and going on to win by 55 points, with the captain’s defensive efforts on star Demon forward Bayley Fritsch singled out as particularly poor.

“I think at the moment James Sicily needs to have a good hard look at himself. I think he’s putting himself ahead of the team at the moment,” former St Kilda great Leigh Montagna said on Fox Footy’s First Crack.

“Just watch some of these efforts. This is the first couple of minutes of the game. What’s he doing right there as a defender, just running off his man when there was no real need?

“As captain, you have to be setting the tone, not being the one who is getting exposed. Fritsch got hold of him throughout the game.

“I think James Sicily needs to have a look at himself – how he’s playing as a leader and as a defender. Defend first and worry about getting the footy a bit later on, because he’s letting the team down at the moment.”


Fellow First Crack panellist David King applied the blowtorch to the Hawks as a whole, with coach Sam Mitchell firmly in the gun.

“I just wonder if we’re being conned here,” King said.

“This is a club in rebuild, a club that’s got a coach in his third year of a rebuild. This is not day one.

“When you set up a game in the manner they did in that first quarter – 50 uncontested marks and basically kick the ball around and not even threaten to challenge the opposition in any meaningful way or play with any identity at all – is that the responsibility of the coach or the club to say ‘hang on, what are we doing here?’

“What did they learn from that game? Is the message to those guys ‘we can’t win playing our way so we have to play this false brand’… it will never take you to the promised land.

“It [Hawthorn] doesn’t have time to waste like this. They’re not as inexperienced as other teams.


“We’ve been conditioned to a message that it’s a full bottom-out rebuild and it will take us 10 years. Well it may take you 10 years, but this isn’t helping.

“Who is going to watch that rubbish? I thought it was really disappointing [and] disrespectful to the Hawthorn fans that turned up to watch.”

The Hawks sit second last on the AFL ladder after a 0-2 start to the season, and face an in-form Geelong on Easter Monday next.

Sam Mitchell.

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

Pies legend’s advice for Nick Daicos

Collingwood icon Nathan Buckley has leapt to Nick Daicos’ defence, with the Pies superstar coming in for a barrage of criticism over perceived flaws in his game.

Fans were quick to post examples of the 21-year old appearing to shirk contests in the Magpies’ 15-point loss to St Kilda, in which he finished with 21 disposals and minimal impact in his 50th game.


However, Buckley has rubbished the criticism as unwarranted, though he has identified a key area of the game for Daicos to improve.

“I’ve seen and heard questions about his buy-in to the defensive elements of the game. I would encourage anyone who watches the game, watch his third, fourth and fifth efforts to put pressure on the opposition,” Buckley said on SEN Breakfast.

“He is a ball-getting player, so he’s not the best tacker, because the best tacklers are prepared to lose their feet to stick that tackle. He’s a ball-getter, so he won’t lose his feet to stick a tackle and it means his tackle efficiency isn’t quite as good as it could be.

“I don’t know if you ever want Nick Daicos to lose his feet, because one of his greatest attributes is keeping his feet to be the outnumber at the next contest.”

“The challenge I would put to him is his tackle efficiency – he was tackling at 65 per cent last year, he’s tackling under 50 per cent this year. So when you get your chance to tackle, you’ve got to stick them.

“That might be one of the little things that Craig McRae is talking about that turns into big things.”

Pies coach McRae put his team on notice for ‘sloppy, rusty, clunky’ football following their loss to the Saints, which leaves the reigning premier 0-3 and in dire straits to start 2024.


Their next challenge is a grand final rematch against Brisbane, who are also struggling with a winless start to the season, albeit from just two games having had a bye in Round 2.

Good news for May, Lever after injury scare

Melbourne have received good news for defenders Steven May and Jake Lever, after a pair of injury scares in their win over Hawthorn.

May was subbed out at half time of the match with suspected broken ribs after copping a stray knee on the wing, while Lever landed innocuously in a marking contest shortly after and finished the game on the bench.

The star pair’s absence would have left a gaping hole in the Dees’ defence, but according to reports, they have received positive news.

“Steven May has two cracked ribs and a crack in the transverse process (the bony projection on either side of the vertebrae). But the Dees are hopeful the key back will only miss a week,” SEN reporter Sam Edmund wrote on X.


“No lung puncture, so purely pain management for May.

“Jake Lever said to be fine with a bit of knee soreness only. A very good result for Melbourne, all things considered.”

May was taken to hospital after the incident, with the Demons needing to find a replacement for their Round 3 clash with Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.

Saints to challenge King ban at Tribunal

St Kilda will take star forward Max King’s one-match suspension for a high bump to the AFL Tribunal.

King was cited for an innocuous glancing blow on Collingwood’s Finlay Macrae during the Saints’ 15-point win on Thursday night, with Match Review Officer Michael Christian grading the incident as high contact, medium impact and careless conduct.


It is expected the Saints will challenge the ‘medium’ impact verdict, with Macrae showing no discomfort after the bump and playing out the rest of the match.

King’s three-goal haul was a crucial part of the Saints’ upset win, and he will again be a key presence in their Round 3 clash with Essendon.

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It is set to be a bumper Tuesday night for the Tribunal, with King to be joined at the hearing by Bombers forward Peter Wright, after his collision with Harry Cunningham that left the Swan concussed was referred directly to the Tribunal.