North Melbourne will contest Ben Cunnington’s one-match suspension after the Kangaroos star was pinged by Match Review Officer Michael Christian for a bump on Rory Laird.
The news got worse for the Roos after suffering a 41-point loss to Adelaide on Sunday as Cunnington’s hit put him in danger of missing this weekend’s game against Geelong.
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But the club is going to fight the charge after a backlash from footy fans questioning why Cunnington had anything to answer for in the first place.
Former AFL star and AFLW coach Daniel Harford said on Twitter Cunnington should fight to clear his name, while ex-Western Bulldogs player Lindsay Gilbee wrote: “What a disgrace.”
Making the matter even more confusing, Jarrod Harbrow of the Gold Coast escaped attention for a similar incident for bumping Carlton’s Michael Gibbons.
Melbourne legend Garry Lyon could understand why Cunnington was cited, but not why Harbrow was deemed innocent.
“We’re on board with the Cunnington one, we can buy that. He elects to bump, Rory has kicked the ball, there’s contact to the head he didn’t have to do it,” Lyon told Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
“Gibbons ends up going off for a concussion test. The AFL tell us it was two players playing the ball therefore it’s an accident, which we know and accept can happen in footy.
“I ask you boys, who was playing the ball most out of those two?”
Ben Cunnington is hoping to be eligible to face the Cats.Source:Getty Images
Jarrod Harbrow was lucky to escape.Source:AAP
Brisbane icon Jonathan Brown was in no doubt Harbrow should have been dealt with more harshly.
“The dead giveaway is the player’s eyes. When Harbrow’s eyes are not committed to the football that’s a dead giveaway of his intentions,” Brown said.
“Whether he was trying to protect himself or bump, at the end of the day he hit him in the head so he should be culpable for that for that hit.”
Reacting to Cunnington’s ban, AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson said on Monday: “That’s not high. That’s a joke.
“That’s not right. The other one with Harbrow (was worse).”
Nothing alike. One is playing the ball, the other is not. Totally different.
And Cunnington should fight.
Lyon said the AFL should overrule Christian in the case of Harbrow if it is serious about protecting players from concussion.
“The AFL should appeal this,” Lyon said on SEN Breakfast this week. “They should come out this morning and say ‘Michael Christian is doing the best he can, but on this occasion we don’t agree with him, we will appeal this and send it to the Tribunal’.
“He had an option, Jarrod Harbrow, he had an option to go the ball and he chose to bump and he hit Mick Gibbons in the head and it warranted a concussion test.
“That is exactly what we’re trying to stamp out of the game and yet on this occasion the MRO, and maybe the parameters that didn’t allow them, but they have failed the system and the AFL should appeal it.”
Essendon legend Tim Watson added: “The MRO, I don’t want to smash them in particular. But if we are saying that the head is sacrosanct and we’re doing everything we can to take the bump out of the game, we see another incident on the weekend where Jarrod Harbrow has bumped Mickey Gibbons in the head, he went off the ground, he had a concussion test … and then that’s not cited?
“That is ridiculous.”
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