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AFL News: Tribunal verdict in for Tiger over Swan hit, Cats in the clear over Hawkins' phone use

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2nd April, 2024
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Richmond star Liam Baker has had his one-match suspension for a high bump on Sydney’s Lewis Melican upheld by the AFL Tribunal.

Baker arrived late to a marking contest and caught Melican in the head with his shoulder to spark a furious reaction from Sydney players, though Melican recovered to play out the match.

He will miss the Tigers’ Gather Round clash with St Kilda, in a further blow to the club, having already lost key forward pair Tom Lynch (hamstring) and Noah Balta (knee) for the match.

The Tigers hard nut fronted the Tribunal after the Tigers elected to challenge the ban, with the incident graded as careless conduct, high contact and medium impact by Match Review Officer Michael Christian.

In their defence, the Tigers argued the incident should not be considered a reportable offence as it was a legitimate attempt by Baker to spoil, diputing the claim made by the AFL that, in turning his body mid-air, he elected to bump.

“If this was an attempt to bump, it was an extraordinarily poor and ineffective one,” Richmond counsel Sam Tovey said.

https://www.theroar.com.au/2024/04/02/afl-news-lions-lash-out-at-poor-insensitive-factually-incorrect-vegas-claims-hawkins-in-strife-for-phone-breach/(opens in a new tab)

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When questioned, Baker said he ‘never braced’ for contact, maintaining he was ‘always spoiling the ball’.

Liam Baker collides with Lewis Melican.

Liam Baker collides with Lewis Melican. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL respond to Ginnivan missed frees

AFL executive general manager Laura Kane has admitted several high contact free kicks should have been awarded to Jack Ginnivan, after a controversial Easter Monday clash.

Controversy erupted after the Hawthorn goalsneak wasn’t paid a series of penalties during their loss to Geelong, while other players appeared to be umpired normally.

Fox Footy’s David King claimed there was a ‘different set of rules’ for Ginnivan, whose method of winning regular high free kicks led to the AFL changing its rules in mid-2022 to ensure players who initiated high contact weren’t rewarded, and which coincided with the then-Collingwood star’s free kick numbers drastically dwindling.

Speaking on Tuesday, Kane said the umpires ‘missed a few’ frees involving Ginnivan.

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“We’ve assessed all tackles or contests that involved Jack Ginnivan. It is fair to say that a couple of those weren’t officiated correctly and we missed a few.

“We’ve spoken to Hawthorn and reiterated as we did in 2022 to all clubs that we don’t want players to lead with their head. What I want to be really clear on is we don’t have a different set of rules for a player; we don’t have a different set of rules for a club or a team; we officiate our games all the same way within the rules.”

However, in an appearance on Nine’s Footy Classified on Monday night, Hawks coach Sam Mitchell said Ginnivan would simply need to adjust his game.

“I say to the players regularly ‘If you play for them [free kicks], you don’t deserve them,” he said.

“Once you become that [known for staging], then you need to never whinge to an umpire again, and you need to just play the right way, and you’ll get the free kicks you deserve in time’.”

Meanwhile, Ginnivan has revealed he knew it was time to leave Collingwood after a post-season meeting with Magpies coach Craig McRae.

Weeks after playing in Collingwood’s premiership win last September, the Anzac Day medallist was offered a four-year deal to play for the Hawks – the club he grew up supporting.

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After a turbulent 12 months, that included a two-game ban for admitting to illicit drug use, Ginnivan landed himself in trouble for attending a horse racing event on grand final eve.

“Read the room, Jack,” McRae said in his post-grand final press conference when asked about Ginnivan’s night at Moonee Valley racecourse.

Ginnivan, who owns multiple race horses but didn’t have any running on the night in question, was frustrated by how the story blew up.

“Me and my mate went there at 6.30 (pm) and got home at 9.30 (pm), like it wasn’t really that big of a deal,” the 21-year-old told the Tommy Talks podcast.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake from my behalf, but probably just how people perceived it.

“It didn’t look great, which would be the only thing I would change.

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“Nothing really came of it until ‘Fly’s’ (McRae) press conference and my exit meeting, and that was sort of when I knew I probably should leave.

 “That was a bit eye-opening, that exit meeting.

“The most disappointing thing was probably just no coach or player reaching out to say, ‘I want you to stay and we really value you’ and all those things.”

Despite McRae’s public annoyance, Ginnivan went to Collingwood’s Mad Monday celebrations dressed as a jockey.

“They’re actually (jockey) Craig Williams’ silks,” Ginnivan said.

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“I got them on the Friday night at the Valley because I was with a few people from the Valley that got us into the box and just looked after us.

“I didn’t even know that it would blow up, so I thought I might just go as a jockey because I like horses. And then it blew up and then it’s the funniest thing of all-time.”

McRae responded to Ginnivan’s comments, reiterating he was still contracted to Collingwood.

“I openly say that we had an exit interview that I expressed things I wasn’t happy with,” he told SEN on Tuesday.

“It wasn’t ‘see you later, Jack’. He was a valued player and premiership player. We shook hands and he decided to go and we said ‘yes, OK’. Even when we had that final conversation on the phone, I still love and support him and want the best for him.”

Ginnivan will come up against Collingwood on Sunday for the first time since his exit when Hawthorn face the Magpies at Adelaide Oval. “They probably should’ve put it at the (MC) G in front of 90,000 (people) but they chose Gather Round in Adelaide for some reason,” Ginnivan added.

AFL hands down Hawkins verdict over phone breach

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Geelong veteran Tom Hawkins has avoided sanction the AFL after he was caught using his mobile phone in the dressing room during the controversial lightning delay on Monday.

All the players’ electronic devices are supposed to be locked away immediately before and during matches due to concerns about gambling and even though Hawkins was reportedly checking weather information, he could face a huge fine.

Collingwood duo Jeremy Howe and Jordan De Goey copped $20,000 fines three years ago when they used phones in the sheds to alert family members that they had been ruled out of the rest of a game.

However, Hawkins and the Cats have escaped with an official warning from the AFL, with the phone use deemed ‘unintentional’.

“While the interaction was unintentional, it serves as an important reminder to all clubs that mobile phone usage is restricted to only authorised device users during the duration of a match,” an AFL statement reads.

Hawkins said after the win over Hawthorn that he and Jeremy Cameron had a coffee during the lengthy delay while there was lightning strikes.

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“Our player development manager – I asked him about the radar and wanted to get a look at what was coming our way,” he told Channel 7 after the match.

The delay lasted 43 minutes before Geelong took down Hawthorn by 36 points in Hawkins’ 350th game.

The Cats were cruising with a six-goal advantage before players were told to leave the field just before the start of the final quarter in the traditional Easter Monday MCG fixture.

Play resumed at 6.11pm, past the match’s original scheduled finishing time, with Geelong doing enough in torrential rain to win 17.4 (106) to 10.10 (70) in front of 67,020 fans.

Power forward Hawkins was a valuable contributor in his milestone match, kicking two first-quarter goals and finishing with an equal game-high four.

Hawkins – who will become Geelong’s games record holder in six weeks – overtook recently-retired Richmond great Jack Riewoldt (787) to move to 13th for most goals kicked in VFL/AFL history.

Hawkins’ family and former Cats teammates packed out the club’s rooms after he was chaired from the ground by Jeremy Cameron and Mitch Duncan.

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Injuries cause havoc as Swans veteran sidelined

Veteran Sydney defender Dane Rampe will miss the next month of the AFL season because of a hamstring injury.

The 33-year-old was substituted from the Swans’ loss to Richmond on Sunday, with scans revealing a low-grade strain.

Rampe will miss three or four weeks, but the Swans were boosted by the news fellow stalwart Harry Cunningham could return for Saturday’s Gather Round game against West Coast. Cunningham was concussed in a round-two incident that led to Essendon’s Peter Wright copping a four game suspension.

Adelaide utility Lachlan Murphy faces about five weeks out with a knee injury, joining teammate Wayne Milera on the sidelines.

Milera was on Monday ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee knee during Adelaide’s loss to Fremantle on Friday, when Murphy damaged a lateral ligament.

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“Murphy is going to be (out) anything up to three to five weeks with his knee injury,” Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks said.

Hawthorn will be without key forward Mitch Lewis (hamstring) and rookie Nick Watson (ankle) for Sunday’s clash against Collingwood. The Hawks hope Lewis will miss just one game but Watson could be out for six weeks.

“Mitch won’t be available this week given the six-day turnaround, but we will monitor his response to loading to determine his round five availability,” Hawthorn’s doctor Liam West said. “Being a lower-grade injury we don’t expect Mitch to miss a considerable amount of game play.”

Watson’s debut season will be curtailed after scans revealed the extent of his ankle problem.

“Fortunately in Nick’s case, he won’t require surgery on his ankle,” West said. “He’ll spend the next period in a moonboot to allow his ligaments to heal before we begin loading him up again.

“At this stage, we think he’ll be out four to six weeks but will continually reassess this during his rehab period.”

Lions lash out at Vegas claims

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Harris Andrews is bracing for his sternest leadership test but insists there’s no internal tension, with the Brisbane Lions co-captain dismissing the impact of an off-season trip on their poor AFL start.

Last year’s grand finalists are 0-3 ahead of Friday’s Gather Round date with North Melbourne, and feeling the heat after reports a United States getaway that followed the club’s 2023 exertions sparked a dressing-room rift.

Andrews and Lions football boss Danny Daly on Monday fronted media to deny there had been a “crisis meeting” after the allegations were aired on Friday.

Daly labelled reporting of the incident “poor, insensitive and factually incorrect”.

Saying he was blindsided by the accusations, Daly called co-captains Andrews and Lachie Neale to seek assurances there was no division within the playing group. 

He insisted no personal relationships had ended because of the trip to Las Vegas. “It’s been an interesting (Easter) from the club’s point of view,” he said.

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“We reached out to our leaders and they reassured us … there is no story. I always trust our playing group, that’s where it finished. The trip has nothing to do with our on-field performance.

“This group has been through a lot of highs together and a lot of adversity together. We have full confidence in them.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 28: Brisbane Lions leave the field after their defeat during the round three AFL match between Brisbane Lions and Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba, on March 28, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images )

Brisbane Lions. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images )

Andrews, who was holidaying in Europe while a small group of teammates went to the US in October and November, is confident the squad isn’t divided.

“Never any tension at all,” he said. “There’s nothing to be stressed about.

“There’s been a massive blow up (externally) over the last couple of days but as a group we’re united, all in this together. (We) can’t control what other people say.

“I’m not walking around going, ‘Oh there’s players bickering’. We haven’t had the start we wanted and people go outside the box to think of reasons why we’ve started this way.”

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Homegrown product Andrews and dual Brownlow Medal-winner Neale took over the captaincy last season and led the side to the grand final, remaining unbeaten at the Gabba all year. The Lions have been premiership threats since shooting from 15th in 2018 to finish the regular season second in 2019.

“It’s easy to be a leader when you’re winning a prelim and going off to a grand final,” Andrews said. “Zero and three … we have some challenges at the moment and our ability to drag ourselves out of it is going to be a great challenge.

“I’m excited for it; I’ve got plenty of energy and confidence in this group.”

Neale didn’t train on Monday after injuring his ankle in the Lions’ 20-point loss to Collingwood last Thursday.

But Daly said scans had cleared him of any ligament damage and he is expected to face the Kangaroos, provided he participates in Wednesday’s main session.

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