May suspended for drinking and scuffle with teammate, Hird back at Bombers, dissent back

AFL ladder leaders Melbourne have suspended star defender Steven May for the Queen’s Birthday blockbuster with Collingwood after he and team-mate Jake Melksham had an altercation after drinking.

May and Melksham got into a scuffle in Prahran at about 9 p.m. Sunday night after drinking over dinner with teammates earlier in the evening.

The 30-year-old was not supposed to drink because he suffered a concussion and he has been banned for one game by the club, barring him from the big game with the Magpies.

May’s latest indiscretion comes three years after the former Gold Coast skipper avoided a club penalty for drinking while injured.

“After dinner on Sunday night, Jake and Steven informed us of a scuffle that took place after a light-hearted disagreement between the pair escalated,” said Alan Richardson, Melbourne’s general manager of football performance.

“Both Jake and Steven had been drinking over dinner and are incredibly sorry that things went the way they did.

“As Steven is still under round 11 AFL concussion protocols, he was aware that he should not have been drinking under club guidelines.

“The leadership group has recommended that Steven be given a one-game suspension, a decision endorsed by the club’s wider leadership. This will make him unavailable for either AFL or VFL roster.”

The Demons have lost two games in a row, with May suffering a concussion against Fremantle and being unavailable against Sydney.

Melbourne has desperately missed star defender May but said they had to stick to their standards.

“Over the past three years, Steven has developed into one of our key leaders on the field, and while the impact of his not being available for selection is significant, what matters to us is our culture and the commitment we have. have to live by our values,” said Richardson.

“Steven is deeply sorry and acknowledges that his actions were not at all in line with the expectations that the club and his team-mates have of him.

“He accepts the sanction imposed and makes no excuse for his poor judgment.”

In his first season with Melbourne in May 2019, May apologized to his teammates after he was spotted in a pub while sidelined with a groin injury, but avoided suspension.

He had previously been criticized for being unfit for the season and his 2019 season was ruined by injuries, before becoming the Demons’ defensive rock for the past three years.

May had previously had his jaw broken by then teammate Campbell Brown in an altercation at a Los Angeles nightclub in 2013.

Both the “extremely remorseful” May and Melksham will also complete community service.

Hird set for return

James Hird returns to Essendon in an official capacity for the first time since leaving as coach and will take part in the celebration of the AFL club’s 150th anniversary this week.

The Bombers celebrate the occasion on Friday night when they take on longtime rivals Carlton in the MCG.

Hird stepped down as Essendon’s trainer in 2015 after having previously stepped down for 12 months amid the fallout from the infamous supplement scandal.

The 49-year-old worked at GWS this season, initially in a part-time managerial position.

He took on an extensive coaching role in support of interim coach Mark McVeigh following Leon Cameron’s departure last month.

The move has led to suggestions Hird could eventually take on another senior coaching role.

There has also been speculation that Hird could return to Essendon full-time, with Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell saying the two-time premiership player is “always welcome” at the club.

Former Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy said Hird will be warmly welcomed by the club’s fans as he takes part in the pre-game festivities leading up to the Carlton clash.

“It will be absolutely fantastic for our fans to see Hird back at the club,” Sheedy told the Herald Sun.

“He has been an incredible player for our club and unfortunately has coached the team through the supplement saga era.”

With just two wins in a disappointing 2022 season, Essendon will have to endure a massive shock if they are to topple high-flying Carlton.

AFL eases disagreements among players

The AFL has instructed umpires to soften their stance on player dissent in a reassessment of the previously harsh stance.

At the start of the season, any form of dissent was dealt with severely, with players often being penalized for simply sticking out their arms in response to umpires’ decisions.

But last week, the league privately instructed umpires to let a little bit of emotion go unpunished, as long as players show restraint.

It comes as the AFL claims that the dissent rule has already been successful in changing the behavior of players at all levels of football.

“The players have continued to adapt and adapt well, as have the umpires,” said an AFL spokesperson.

“It has the desired effect in reducing disagreements on the pitch and has a positive effect at the junior level we wanted.

“Everyone plays their part as the season goes on.”

Moments like the incident with Jordan De Goey on round nine, when the Collingwood star was frustrated over a referee decision but held back, will no longer result in a 50m penalty for dissent.

Magpies coach Craig McRae approved the change.

“It’s just a natural development,” McRae told Fox Footy.

“You see that the players are really trying. They are.”

Nat Fyfe from the Dockers

Nat Fyfe. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Fyfe looks forward roll

Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe will spend plenty of time on offense when he makes his AFL return this week.

Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Fyfe will play his first game for the Dockers this year in Saturday’s game against Hawthorn at Optus Stadium.

It comes after the double Brownlow medalist made a successful comeback from shoulder and back surgeries last weekend with WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder.

On the eve of the season, Fyfe emphatically stated that his time to experiment with a front-line role was over.

But the Dockers’ good form in his absence has shifted the goalposts as Fyfe looks for where he can bring “net added value” to the team.

“There’s no point going back to midfield and playing a role that Will Brodie, David Mundy, Caleb Serong or Andy Brayshaw have done so well all season,” Fyfe told Fox Footy.

“In addition, I’m going to be pretty rusty and need a couple of weeks to find some form, so that would indicate there would be a pretty big forward component in where I play.

“But what that looks like exactly, we are only a week into winter, we have a lot of hard work to do at the end of the year.

“My role will be flexible and adaptable throughout the year.”

Fyfe laughed off his preseason appeal that he would not return to the front line in 2022.

“It just shows the shortsightedness of sweeping statements,” he said.

“There is now new information, we are a different team than we were at the beginning of the year as far as we have been able to build.

“I’m very open to play attackers, I started my career as a striker, but above all I’m open to playing within our system.

“Where best suits the team and where we can identify my strengths that contribute to that mix.”

Fremantle (9-3) has surprised critics to finish third on the ladder after beating Melbourne and Brisbane in the past two weeks.

Williamson takes time out

Carlton defender Tom Williamson has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the AFL club to resolve personal issues.

The 23-year-old played in one senior game this season, as an unused substitute against Richmond in the first round.

In a club statement on Monday night, the Blues said they had been supporting Williamson for several months in handling “a number of personal issues”.

“All parties agree that it would be best for Williamson to move away from the football club for an extended period of time to focus on his well-being and ultimately address his personal issues,” the statement read.

“The well-being, health and safety of everyone remains the club’s priority and due to the sensitive nature of this matter, the club is not in a position to comment further at this stage.”

Williamson has played 44 games for Carlton since being selected as pick 61 in the 2016 national draft.