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It just doesn’t feel right

There has been significant discussion overnight and this morning following last night’s tribunal decision involving Jack Viney.

There have been a number of measures implemented to protect players from head injuries, including rule changes. As an organisation we have not only supported these changes, but encouraged the introduction of rules which protect player safety. Concussion is an issue we take incredibly seriously.

However last night’s decision has caused uncertainty amongst players regarding their ability to brace and protect themselves from collisions, and it just doesn’t feel right.

We are concerned that this uncertainly has the potential to send the wrong message to players, and may actually increase the risk of players receiving head injuries, if players don’t feel they can protect themselves in a contest like this.

The current Tribunal decision is a matter for the Melbourne Football Club and Mark Evans to handle regarding whether there is an appeal or decision stands. However, whilst we are not in a position to comment on the specific details of any grounds for appeal, we do hope that common sense prevails and that clarity is delivered to players and fans.

The incident isn’t in the spirit of what we would consider a ‘bump’ with respect to the laws that are in place, and if it is a ‘bump’ then it doesn’t appear that Jack had any realistic alternative. Based on the footage and Jack’s evidence, it seems clear that Jack was just protecting himself – consistent with the coaching he has received recently to avoid further concussions.

Having said that, we understand that these can be very difficult decisions to adjudicate, especially when they’re broken down into frame by frame slow motion replays where perhaps it appears that the player had the ability to make a better choice.

As an industry we will soon know whether an appeal will be lodged, but from a players’ perspective we hope that common sense prevails and the balanced position is restored.

Ian Prendergast discussing the matter with SEN this morning.