Calls for crackdown on umpcontact after bizarre incident, concussion victim condemns Stewart’s ‘dirty act’

Rules around intentional referee contact should be ‘changed immediately’ following a controversial incident involving Brisbane’s Eric Hipwood on Thursday night, according to Fox Footy’s David King.

Hipwood appeared to deliberately push Bulldogs opponent Ryan Gardner into an umpire during the Lions’ 41-point win, leaving him unmarked within 50 and seeing the forward kick a goal moments later.

Under current rules, Hipwood will only be fined $1000 for the incident, which prohibits pushing an opponent into the path of an umpire.

However, King believes the sanction is too lenient given the potential seriousness of the incident, saying the fine is ‘a bargain’ for helping Hipwood score a goal.

“We’re trying to protect the umpires, we’re trying to take care of them in every facet of the game… and then it’s a $1,000 fine for pushing a player straight to a field umpire,” King said.

‘We have to change that right away, don’t we? OK, him [Hipwood] will get the luxury of that, but that has to change immediately.”

Former legend Jason Dunstall agreed, calling on the AFL to suspend players for incidents similar to Hipwood’s premise.

“I have no problem if you sit there and say we start with at least a week and then we charge it compared to how bad the contact is.”

‘If you try to forbid a certain act, you have to punish it well.

“Anything you’re trying to ban in the game, fines shouldn’t apply in any way. It starts with a week, and then it charges depending on how bad you’ve violated.”

It is the second referee contact incident in several days, with Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe (and Carlton’s Matt Cottrell) escaping sanction after being pushed into a whistleblower on lap 15.

Fyfe was cleared by Match Review Officer Michael Christian for having no case to answer.

All-Australian Eagle denounces Stewart’s ‘dirty act’ on Prestia

Former West Coast Eagles star Brad Sheppard, who had to retire early this year due to ongoing battles with a concussion, has criticized Geelong’s Tom Stewart for his much-discussed bump on Dion Prestia.

Stewart was given a four-week ban by the AFL for the goal in the Cats’ thrilling win over Richmond last week that left Prestia with a concussion and in obvious distress.

Sheppard, a 2020 All Australian before his career was impacted by a number of headbutts, told SEN the ban was too light, despite the fact that Stewart had no intention of giving Prestia a concussion.

I don’t think Tom Stewart had him in line even 100 yards away. I think he saw him there at the time and he gathered him high,” Sheppard said.

“But it was a conscious decision to go through with the act, and I think four weeks is a little light… it’s a dirty act on the football field.”

Sheppard has been vocal since retiring about the need for greater awareness and respect for concussions, in light of his own trauma.

Earlier this year, the 31-year-old called for the mandatory concussion protocol period to be increased from 12 to 30 days.

Sheppard also expressed concern for Prestia’s well-being and wished him well in a “terrifying time.”

“You never think in today’s game that players will go past the ball and cause yourself serious head injuries. We don’t know anything about Dion’s long-term future,” he said.

“There are reports that he is following it well, and I hope for him that he follows it well.

“Because he’s going through those experiences and symptoms, it’s a scary time for him to go through right now – not just for himself, but for his family and his partner and for the football club too.”

Sheppard isn’t the only Eagle to be forced into early retirement by headbutts, with 2018 Prime Minister Daniel Venables still suffering the effects of a nasty series of concussions.

Venables has gone to the US to seek further help from the Neurological Wellness Institute as he seeks to recover from the effects of a brutal blow suffered in early 2019.

Daniel Venables

Daniel Venables – who will miss the entire 2020 season – sums up the feelings of Eagles fans. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Roos contacted Simpson for a coaching job – again

A report from the Herald Sun claims North Melbourne has made a second attempt to lure former captain and current West Coast coach Adam Simpson back to the club.

Simpson made 306 appearances for the Kangaroos in a decorated career stretching from 1995 to 2009, captaining the club from 2004 to 2008 and in the Roos’ premierships in 1996 and 1999.

With the Eagles going through an extremely difficult season due to the impact of COVID-19 in Western Australia, winning just two of their first 14 games, Herald Sun report that de Roos contacted Simpson to gauge his interest in replacing the pressured David Noble at the helm.

However, the 2018 premiership coach is unlikely to leave the Eagles, where he is contracted until the end of 2024.

It marks the second time in recent years that de Roos has made overtures to Simpson, with the 46-year-old sounding one of a number of former Kangaroos who became coaches, including John Longmire and Alastair Clarkson, in 2019 to replace the outgoing Brad Scott.

Simpson, Longmire and Clarkson rejected the club’s advances at the time, with de Roos eventually making the fateful decision to hire caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw, who resigned a year later for personal reasons and was replaced by Noble.

De Roos and Noble are struggling after a 1-13 start to the season, with Simpson’s Eagles overtaking them with their win over Essendon last week.

The last-placed club recently appointed Geoff Walsh to conduct an intensive club-wide evaluation to assess where things are going wrong.