Port Adelaide is set to cop a “significant fine” from the AFL, according to Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph, amid fierce reaction from the football community over the post-collision treatment of Aliir Aliir and Lachie Jones.
And while there are calls for the sanction to be in excess of $100,000, dual premiership Kangaroo David King believes clubs that breach concussion protocols should also be punished with suspended premiership points or draft picks.
The AFL on Monday handed Port Adelaide a ‘please explain’ after Aliir and Jones were placed in concussion protocols – two days after the Power duo collided during Saturday night’s Showdown against Adelaide. Foxfooty.com.au reported the two players on Monday both presented with symptoms consistent with concussion.
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Jones underwent a SCAT5 test and was subbed out with a migraine, but Aliir did not receive one and was permitted to return to the ground seven minutes after the collision following a Head Injury Assessment.
Port club doctor Mark Fisher admitted Aliir should’ve undergone SCAT testing at the time immediately following the collision.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s On The Couch, Ralph explained that under the AFL’s own concussion policy, players who suffer a head knock or collision must immediately be removed from play and undertake a SCAT5 test if any of these symptoms apply: “Lying motionless for more than two seconds, no protective action in a fall to the ground, any uncertainty from the club doctor that the player is not quite right following trauma, possible motor incoordination and if there possible behaviour changes.”
Consequently, Ralph said the Power were in “significant strife” and would face “significant dines” after “another AFL concussion flashpoint”.
“If the AFL doesn’t punish them, all that has really happened is the two players who should’ve been in concussion protocols have been forced into it,” Ralph told On The Couch.
“There’s a please explain, they’ll put some information back to the AFL. I think it’ll be fines rather than anything more significant like draft picks. But the AFL has to send to message.
“I look at the context of Richmond through the Covid era. They got $100,000 in their soft cap after a couple of Covid breaches. Covid was something that was really risking the credibility and future of the game – and this is another one. It may well be that it’ll be a $20,000 or $40,000 fine with the AFL coming out and saying ‘this is the future fine’.”
King urged the AFL to take a stand when handing down its punishment.
“I guess we will soon find out the AFL’s actual stance re concussion,” King wrote on Twitter.
“Basic fines don’t work. Soft Cap fines are certainly valid options but I would also add, a suspended Premiership points or a susp National Draft pick component.
“Never again. Enough is enough.”
Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 on Monday night, co-host Gerard Whateley said watching the collision on Saturday night then Aliir’s return to the field “felt all wrong on the night”.
“We thought the best thing to do here is just to play you what happened in long form. So not the incident over and over, but how it looked in the aftermath – because this is not optics, the visual cues are now a big part of how this is assessed,” Whateley told AFL 360.
Great ‘physically sick’ over Port act | 01:11
“To sit on the coach at home was to think both players displayed those limp or arm gestures and you go: ‘We’re not going to see those players again (for the rest of the game)’. It was incongruous that Aliir Aliir wasn’t put through the 15-mintue SCAT assessment … The AFL has clearly had a hand in putting both of these players into the concussion protocols, where they probably belonged in the first place.
“You don’t have to stray into the medical territory to know this was out of kilter with the development on this front. Just speaking to a few other clubs, their observations were ‘no, the visuals were actually enough’. The visuals were enough to have those two players ruled out of the game and how they landed.
“I don’t know what the warnings have been in the lead-up to this, so I want to say this for futures and I don’t know where it applies to now. But that’s a $100,000 fine to breach the concussion protocols in the way they are dictated – and it should come out of the football department, the soft cap, in the same way the Covid fines did during those years.
“Maybe that applies right now. I don’t quite know the lay of the land in the lead-up to it, but I feel like there are multiple other clubs who fully understand the circumstances that have been breached here. They (the AFL) know that there’s a day where they’ll have to be answerable in an open court for this: ‘What did you do?’ Well this is what we did when a club transgressed.
“I wouldn’t expect there to be any alibis or any mercy when this punishment is handed down.”
AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson said it was a “shambolic” situation for the Power and the AFL.
“The doctor believed he was doing the right thing and that he cares for the players – all doctors do – but he made an error. It put Ken Hinkley in a position after the game when Ken says: ‘We’ve got absolute faith and we always have a duty of care’ – no, you didn’t have a duty of care Kenny, sorry. The club didn’t, the club doctor didn’t,” Robinson told AFL 360.
“When I was watching this and he went back on the ground, I thought: ‘Have I missed something here? He was knocked out, he can’t come back on … why are they doing this? Why are they compromising this man’s health to send him back out on the field?’
“This is the last thing the AFL needed was a situation like this … It’s good in a way the footy world has jumped up and down about it.
“Everyone’s trying to come along with this (concussion awareness) … and to see that on the weekend, I’m thinking, ‘this is wrong’. We’re not a doctor, but this was wrong.
“We will find out how serious the AFL is here … there will be no mercy.”
Melbourne champion Garry Lyon said they were “disturbing scenes” on Saturday night and that the AFL “has to send a message” amid the concussion class actions against the league.
‘Poor Aliir had a night to forget’ | 02:23
“That is fodder for everyone who are running class actions and saying the AFL are paying lip-service to the concussion – that is manna from heaven. When they look at that and say ‘this is your competition, this is what you’re serving up and that bloke was back playing in five minutes’ – that shocks even me,” Lyon told On The Couch.
Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley added: “When Aliir ran back onto the field, anyone that’s been suspended for a dangerous tackle this year would be wondering: ‘What the hell am I getting weeks for? Why am I carrying the can for this high threshold that the AFL are putting onto concussion or any headknocks and I’ve copped weeks for that when the payer I tackled glanced his head against the grass when this is a clear headknock and he’s come back on?’”
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