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AFL News: Parker cops mega ban from VFL Tribunal for high bump, Thomas charged for alleged 'harassing phone calls'

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21st May, 2024
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Sydney veteran Luke Parker has copped a massive six-week suspension from the VFL Tribunal, for his bump which left Frankston player Josh Smith with serious facial injuries.

Parker had been sent straight to the Tribunal after the bump on Smith during the Swans’ VFL match on Friday night was graded careless conduct with high impact and severe contact; with the league opting against handing him a four-week ban to instead make their case for the heavier sanction.

At the hearing, the VFL argued Parker’s bump was ‘at the high end of carelessness’, with the veteran having bumped Smith with the ball a significant distance away, and called for a six-match suspension.

Smith’s significant injuries were cited as a key reason for the major ban, having sustained multiple fractures to his cheekbone and eye socket that required surgery, as well as a concussion, which will sideline him for up to eight weeks.

Parker failed in his duty of care… this is not just the potential to cause injury but an actual injury,” the league’s counsel Morgan McLay argued.

The Swans did not contest the charge, but argued not only should Parker not be banned for six weeks, but receive less than four on the grounds of both the accidental nature of the clash as well as his previous good record – despite the veteran having been suspended once before in his career, a one-match ban for a dangerous tackle just last year.

The club’s counsel also claimed Parker rapidly decelerated to lay the bump.

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“This is not a case where the offending player ran at speed and barrelled into the victim,” Swans representative Nick Kidd said.

Parker himself said he expected Smith to ‘naturally brace for contact’, and that his aim was to block the Frankston player to allow a teammate an unimpeded run at the ball.

According to Fox Footy’s David Zita, Parker claimed he had acted similarly ‘between 100 and 200 times in his career’.

The Swans’ push to have the suspension downgraded due to ‘exceptional and compelling circumstances’, citing Parker’s single suspension across his lengthy career in a similar argument to that famously made by Brisbane to overturn Charlie Cameron’s one-match dangerous tackle ban, was unsuccessful.

Parker’s ban means he will be unable to play at AFL or VFL level until July 13, with the Swans’ VFL team’s bye effectively extending the sanction by a week.

It comes as a major blow to the star veteran’s chances of forcing his way back into the senior team this season, having spent three weeks in the VFL after recovering from a pre-season broken arm due to the AFL team’s strong 9-1 start to the season.

On Tuesday, Swans coach John Longmire stood up for Parker, claiming he is ‘not a player with any malice in him at all’.

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“It’s not as if he did a lot wrong,” Longmire said.

“He missed nine weeks out with a broken arm and gets going again, playing for the last couple of weeks and faces the tribunal tonight.

“You want to be playing senior football and I’ve been on the record saying that he’s handled it so well.

“He’s been terrific with our younger players… our VFL coach comments on a daily basis how good he’s been.

“He wants to play senior footy and we’ll be disappointed if he gets suspended tonight for a period of time.”

Luke Parker celebrates a goal.

Luke Parker celebrates a goal. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Thomas charged for alleged harassing phone calls

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Sacked North Melbourne star Tarryn Thomas has been charged by Victoria Police for alleged harassment and breaching a court order.

Victoria Police said in a statement: “Police have charged a 24-year-old Ormond man in relation to reports of alleged harassing phone calls. Police executed a search warrant at a premises in Ormond on Tuesday 21 May about 11.15am.

“The man was arrested and charged with use telecommunications service to harass and breaching a court order. He was bailed to the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on 21 November.”

Thomas was sacked by the Roos earlier this year after repeated conduct breaches, including threatening a woman.

Libba ready for comeback

Western Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore has been given the green light to return to AFL action next month despite twice collapsing on the field this season.

Liberatore has been sidelined since round eight, when he suffered his latest concussion in a series of concerning incidents.

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The 32-year-old “underwent extensive specialist consultation” in recent weeks and has been medically cleared to make a comeback.

“We have continued to be very diligent and thorough in our processes for assessing and managing Tom following his most recent concussion in round eight,” the Bulldogs’ head of sports medicine Chris Bell said.

“This has involved specialist review and opinion to help guide his return-to-play planning.

“In some great news, after some reassuring results, we have devised a structured return-to-play plan that, if everything goes well, will see Tom returning to play across the next two to three weeks.”

Liberatore’s clearance comes less than a week after Bulldogs draftee Aiden O’Driscoll was forced into premature retirement because of concussion, without playing an AFL game.

The Bulldogs have also confirmed dashing defender Jason Johannisen is expected to miss up to five weeks with a hamstring injury sustained at training last week.

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Fellow backman Ryan Gardner will be sidelined for at least three months because of a wrist injury.

“Ryan innocuously punched a footy, which ruptured a key structural ligament in his wrist,” Bell said.

“This injury will not heal with conservative management, with Ryan needing surgery to reconstruct the damaged ligament.

“We will confirm Ryan’s rehab plan following the surgery, but expect him to miss at least the next three months.”

Meanwhile, Collingwood star Jordan De Goey is at risk of missing Friday night’s clash with Fremantle in Perth – but not because of concussion.

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De Goey’s head hit the turf in the final term of Collingwood’s four-point win over Adelaide on Saturday, leading to questions about whether the star midfielder should have been allowed back on the field.

But De Goey has been cleared of any delayed concussion symptoms, with a sore groin now his only issue.

The Magpies say De Goey will be further assessed this week after experiencing “awareness in his groin” during the win over Adelaide.

De Goey was playing his first match back after missing two weeks with a groin injury.

Beau McCreery (concussion) and Brody Mihocek (hamstring) are a chance to return against the Dockers.

Fremantle are hopeful ruckman Sean Darcy (calf) will be given the green light to return, but goalsneak Michael Frederick will miss through concussion. 

Essendon confirmed on Monday night that midfielder Darcy Parish would miss three games with a calf strain.

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Parish was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s win over North Melbourne after waking up with a sore calf, and scans on Monday have confirmed the extent of the damage.

The 26-year-old will miss games against Richmond, Gold Coast and Carlton, before returning after the bye to face West Coast on June 23.

with AAP

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