Garry Lyon challenges Laura Kane for not suspending George Hewett for Lachie Neale strike, new MRO rules, On the Couch, latest news


Melbourne great Garry Lyon has challenged the AFL for not suspending George Hewett for striking Lachie Neale in last weekend’s clash amid a crackdown on such incidents and ongoing concussion issues.

Among the rule changes for the 2024 season included a strengthening of AFL Tribunal guidelines – where incidents when a player strikes another intentionally when shoving or fending an opponent will now be graded as intention rather than careless, resulting in a week’s ban.

Both Neale and Hewett were given fines for the exchange despite Hewett appearing to strike the Brownlow medallist on the chin, meaning they’re both free to play this week.

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Triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown declared over the weekend on Fox Footy how the Match Review Officer (MRO) graded Hewett’s contact would “set an example for the season.”

And so Lyon put it directly to AFL executive general manager of football Laura Kane directly.

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“You’ve had a look at it and chosen to hand out a fine, which we’ve been handing out for a long, long period of time for these incidents. Why was he not given a week?,” Lyon posed on Fox Footy’s On the Couch on Monday night.

Kane however claimed the rule change was largely introduced to stamp out strikes behind play, whereas the Neale-Hewett clash was near a stoppage.

“We don’t like to see this and we don’t want this in the elite game. We don’t want it in community footy at all, hence why it was sanctioned through MRO,” Kane told On the Couch.

“The important shift we’ve been talking about in the off-season is that pushing for space or the striking action off the ball – not around the contest.

“That rule change was focused on when you’re trying to get space say 20 or 30 metres off the ball and you cause in injury, we would grade it as intentional, which would trigger the week.

“Around the stoppage and contest, there’s a careless nature to the contest that’s right in front of them.”

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However Lyon wasn’t having it, responding: “That’s semantics though Laura, surely?

“That is to all intents and purposes, a punch to the head. The sort of thing you said, had it happened 25 metres off the ball, you may have graded it differently.

“When we’ve got this concussion issue, surely err on the side of giving them a week to send a message.”

Kane reiterated that the game was hoping to wipe out such incidents and suggested the AFL could reassess its laws if they continue.

“I hope we don’t see it anymore. If we do, like we did in the off-season just gone, we look at it and make changes,” she said.

“We don’t want to see that from players.”

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Kane also waved off the debate around removing speckies as despite the obvious concussion implications given it’s a marquee part of the game.

“We want the game to be safe, but we don’t want to remove the key elements,” she said.

“Much like our approach to smothers and run-down tackles, marking contests are really important parts of our game, they create some of the best highlights and moments.

“We award the best mark for the year. We don’t want to see that lost to the game, we just want the game to be as safe as possible. It is a full contact sport, we understand that.”

She also hinted that umpire giving warnings for 6-6-6 infringements could soon be removed, saying: “I’m looking at that, I don’t like the warning either – I think it wastes time.”

Kane added with a laugh: “I’ll give some breaking news maybe,” before declaring it’s her preference to make rule changes in the off-season.


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