It’s a sad Thursday night when you rifle through the weekly ins and outs for the weekend’s upcoming games and the standout name on the list of ‘OUT’s during a week of huge changes is one situated beneath the title ‘North Melbourne’.
Jack Ziebell will miss his side’s clash against Richmond this weekend, as well as three more games, before he is able to showcase his skills on the football field again. Why, you ask? It would be great if a clear answer could be provided, because the majority of people are still left scratching their heads.
Even after looking over Ziebell’s collision with Carlton’s Aaron Joseph a handful of times, I struggle to see what charges could validate his four-week suspension. The contact was not high, eyes were on the footy; what we have is a four-week suspension handed out to an exciting, young footballer as the result of a hard approach to winning the football.
Keep in mind, in the same circus tent under an hour beforehand, Carlton captain Chris Judd was also given four weeks on the sidelines after his ‘chicken wing’ tackle which was deemed to be reckless. Does this mean that a seemingly-intentional act with the potential to cause serious damage is now to be put in the same breath as an unintentional bump?
Casting your eyes back one more week, Sharrod Wellingham would be in a laughing fit after getting a five-week suspension reduced to only three, on a technicality, for a bump on Carlton’s Kade Simpson against the flight of the ball with no eyes for the contest, resulting in a broken jaw to Simpson.
I don’t think the AFL understands the wider effects this charge is going to have on the competition. If the Ziebell bump is now to be a four-week suspension, expect to see more and more players pull out of one-on-one contests for the ball when the footy is in dispute. God forbid players try and win the football.
Kangaroos coach Chris Scott was scathing in his assessment of the MRP’s findings regarding Ziebell, and rightly so.
“We coached him and said, ‘You cannot do that, you cannot line up an opposition player, run past the ball and make him your sole focus’,” Scott said, referring to a prior suspension Ziebell served for a bump on Nick Riewoldt last year.
“So he is now saying to me, ‘I did what you said, I made the ball my sole focus, I attacked it and now I’m not allowed to play for four weeks’.”
What the MRP have done is set a measuring stick for every single bump or collision in the future. If there is any sort of consistency, this means every hard contest will result in a hefty suspension. Needless to say, teams would struggle to field competent sides week after week if this were the case, and plenty more would join Ziebell on the sidelines.
The public eye is sure to be fixed on every contest in the upcoming round of football, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we were to see one or two more questionable reports as a result of the die being cast.