North Melbourne legend David King says the game has “never been more lost” after Blues skipper Patrick Cripps had his two-match suspension overturned at the AFL Appeals Board on Thursday night.
Cripps is free to play this weekend following a lengthy four-and-a-half hour hearing to contest his ban for his hit on Callum Ah Chee that left the Lion concussed — a verdict that’s got the footy world talking.
Originally having his case heard at the Tribunal on Tuesday night, the Appeals Board determined that there was both an error in law at the Tribunal and that the findings of the jury were unreasonable.
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It means the star midfielder is available to face Melbourne on Saturday night and Collingwood next weekend as Carlton fights to stay in the top eight.
Speaking on SEN on Friday morning, King, who’s long advocated for the AFL’s crackdown on head contact and concussions, was shocked by the outcome.
“It contradicts everything that we’ve been talking about for the last three to four years about protecting the head. In my opinion this is not as line ball as what others think,” the dual premiership Kangaroo said.
“I was staggered by the AFL counsel Nicholas Payne last night saying he was adamant the player could contest the ball but still maintain the action of bumping an opponent.
“I think they’re two different things — you’re either contesting the ball or your bracing or bumping … I think Nicholas Payne got it wrong and was beaten by the opposing case.
“I think the game has never been more lost than was it is now. No one knows what dissent is, what holding the ball is, what protecting the head is, no one knows what’s a fair contest and what isn’t.”
King asked for a please explain from AFL general manager of football Brad Scott and other league bosses on the rules around protecting the head.
“Why don’t we hear from Brad Scott and those in charge at the AFL about protecting the head, why don’t they put their head up and talk to us, the fans? Why don’t they? Because they’re worried abut the legalities down the track,” he said.
“Can we just make the decision if we are actually protecting the head or we’re not. I think we’re mixing and matching in the middle ground. At the start of the year they said, ‘we’re going to take a stance on anything that’s fractionally late.’
“Well this is fractionally late, this is what it looks like in reality, so don’t tell us one thing off a CD at the start of a season and then four months later be at odds with it because we’ve got two weeks before a finals series and the captain of Carlton and their best player has been rubbed out. It’s just not the time to make these sorts of adjustments.
“Put your head up, come and tell us what’s going on with our game, because right now it’s a mess. The game itself, the way it’s played, is fantastic … but the rules and protecting the head are miles from where they should be.”
Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes agreed with King and believed the AFL needed to specifically address this decision.
“I’ve been a little bit more lenient on the brace and football collisions, but I did this game, and as soon as it happened (Cripps collided with Ah Chee) I said (he should be suspended for) two weeks,” he said.
“He had the opportunity to go for the footy, he elected to bump, the guy’s been concussed. We would all mostly agree that’s two weeks.
“I was shocked when I woke up this morning and saw he got off.”