Home » Premiership hero lets loose with ‘inflammatory’ Brownlow claim

Premiership hero lets loose with ‘inflammatory’ Brownlow claim

Zak Butters’ fortune to be cleared by the AFL match review officer has divided footy, with a dual premiership player declaring he has had enough of “making excuses” for star players.

The Port Adelaide star was late to a contest and collected Fremantle’s Bailey Banfield high with his hip

Curiously, the play — coming in the dying stages of the Power’s thrilling win — went unpunished by umpires on the night and was similarly given a wide berth by the MRO.

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The decision prompted David King to launch his latest attack on the AFL for its handling of head-high contact.

“I want to know if we’re protecting the head or we’re protecting the Brownlow, because we have talked about this until we’re blue in the face,” David King said on First Crack.

“I’m over it, I really am … I think if it was (St Kilda veteran) Jimmy Webster he gets four weeks.

“But because it’s Zak Butters and he’s in contention for all the major awards and he’s a star-factor player, we go in a different mode. We find ourselves making excuses (like) ‘oh, he got a hand on the ball’.

“To me, you’re either taking a stance and you’re protecting the welfare of all players — not just the one — all players, or you’re not.

“I’m disappointed that after all the progress we made in the previous 18 months, we’ve given it all back at Round 5.”

Brownlow medallist Nathan Buckley took issue with King’s claim that the prestigious honour was prioritised.

“I thought that his language was inflammatory,” Buckley said on SEN.

“Kingy’s all in on this and I understand about protecting the players’ heads, but it’s a difficult situation to consider.”

Butters was cleared on the day Adelaide veteran Matt Crouch received a one-game ban for a similar, but not identical, contest.

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Crouch rushed in at speed and bumped Carlton’s Jack Carroll, who was front-on at the point of contact, to win the loose ball.

“You’re telling me that’s one week? That’s got spinal injury written all over it,” King said.

“Look at that! That is the exact action that puts people in wheelchairs.”

Buckley responded by adding a third incident to the conversation: Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore’s collision with Essendon ruckman Todd Goldstein, which was also cleared by the MRO.

Liberatore gave away a free kick for this collision with Goldstein. Credit: Channel 7

“The contest with Crouch and Carroll was nearly identical to Libba and Goldstein, only Libba went and won the ball with exactly what Crouch did,” Buckley said.

“Libba won the ball but Goldstein won the free kick and there was head contact, but there hasn’t been a sanction. I think that so many players lead with their heads now with poor technique.

“It used to be to get a free kick because of the change in rules. Players starting leading with their heads knowing that the rule was protecting them, rather than protecting themselves.

“That’s caused more of an issue in today’s footy, because we have really poor technique like Carroll and Goldstein and not so much Banfield’s that is actually causing more head contact rather than the player who is going for the ball.”

Collingwood great Tony Shaw also “totally disagreed” with King’s assertion that the potential to cause serious injury was enough for Butters to deserve a ban.

“If we suspend this attack at the contest our game is stuffed,” Shaw wrote.

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