In today’s AFL briefing, your daily wrap of footy news:
- Melbourne to consult surgeons in hope of having Tom McDonald available for finals.
- Tom Lynch will miss the Tigers’ clash on Thursday, but three stars could be back.
- Damien Hardwick says clubs are losing top talent because of the soft cap.
- The Western Bulldogs will not challenge the two-match ban handed to Baily Smith
- And, in case you missed it,
Come back for updates throughout the day.
Demons consider options for McDonald
Melbourne will meet surgeons early this week to weigh up all options for Tom McDonald’s foot injury to give him the best chance possible to be back for the finals.
It has been confirmed that McDonald has a Lisfranc injury, but given he was able to train fully last week, the stability in his foot raises the prospect that about six weeks’ rest might settle the injury and enable him to play.
If he needs surgery, medical experts advise that there are two main options. One, which Geelong’s Tom Stewart had last year and that enabled him to return for finals, would sideline McDonald for 10 to 12 weeks but potentially have him available for the top-of-the-ladder Demons in September.
The second surgical option would be more significant, with screws being inserted, and would require a six-month recovery program, ending any chance the key forward has of featuring again this year.
McDonald’s importance to the Demons has been underscored in recent weeks, with goals drying up for Ben Brown, Sam Weideman’s drop in form and depth player Mitch Brown being brought in as the Demons try to find the right mix.
Melbourne have struggled for goals in the second half of both of the past two matches they have lost.
Key defender Steven May, who has missed with concussion protocols, is likely to return for the Queen’s Birthday match against Collingwood. He has cleared all medical requirements since his concussion but will rejoin training this week and will need to be ticked off by doctors before being cleared for selection.
Defender Harrison Petty entered the game against Sydney with a sore knee and finished the match with a sore shoulder and ankle, but is still expected to be clear to play on Monday.
Carlton, meanwhile, were still to make a call on whether they would rush straight into the AFL team to play Essendon on Friday night.
With all key defenders injured after star backman Jacob Weitering went down with a shoulder injury a fortnight ago, the Blues recruited former North Melbourne defender Durdin out of the SANFL as support in the mid-season draft.
Essendon flanker Andy McGrath also played down the severity of a knock he suffered to the hip in training last week during the Bombers’ bye round, saying he expected to be fit to play in the game.
Lynch to miss clash against Power
Star forward Tom Lynch remains sidelined for another week, but Richmond are hopeful three other premiership stars return for Thursday night’s clash against fellow finals contender Port Adelaide at the MCG.
Lynch (hamstring) is expected to be back to face Carlton in a fortnight, having endured a strain in the same spot as he had through the pre-season, but Noah Balta (hamstring), Kane Lambert (hip) and Marlion Pickett (migraine and suspension) are under consideration to face the Power.
Lynch, the Tigers’ leading goal-kicker, and Lambert , and will have had almost three weeks to heal come the Power clash, while Balta and Pickett have not played since the win over Hawthorn in round nine.
Refreshed after a mid-season bye, coach Damien Hardwick said on Monday the Tigers had reinforcements in mind after a stinging loss to the Swans, having led by five goals.
Balta will train and hopefully play, Kane will hopefully train and play, and Lynchy will be next week, Hardwick said.
Marlion will be available to play. He has played one game in four weeks. Unfortunately, he has had those migraines, the suspension and the bye. We will see how he trains. He hasn’t trained a lot, he hasn’t played a lot.
Hardwick said mid-season draftee Jacob Bauer, who surprised his coach at a birthday dinner on Sunday night when he said he still barracked for the Swans, had to learn the Tigers’ system.
Balta provides flexibility at both ends of the ground, while Lambert, dealing with a chronic injury, has managed only four matches but remains an important part of the side.
What he [Lambert] goes through every week to play is incredible. No one does it better than Kane to give himself an opportunity to play, Hardwick said.
The Tigers had a four-game winning streak , leaving them with a 6-5 win-loss record and outside the top eight.
If you had said to me after the start we had, I think we were 1-3, we would be 6-5 at the break, I would be OK with it, but I wouldn’t be happy with it, Hardwick said.
A lot of our KPI indicators – time in front, quarters won, all those sort of things – we are actually up in the top four, we just haven’t got the result. We have had some really, really bad quarters within games. It’s cost us probably three to four games in theory.
We are doing a lot of things right but, unfortunately, when things aren’t going well for us, we are getting scored against too heavily. We did a bit of work on that over the course of the break and, hopefully, start to reap the benefits of that knowledge and work we have put in.
for accusations levelled at them during a tribunal hearing where Franklin failed to have his one-match ban over-turned for striking the Tigers great.
The Swans’ lawyer had claimed Cotchin might get an invite to the Logies instead of the Brownlow this year for exaggerating the impact from the Franklin strike.
Hardwick said Cotchin and Franklin are future Hall of Famers and we don’t want to be using those word choices to describe two greats of the game.
I think both advocates wish they had their time again and probably used different word choices, he said.
Hardwick had not fronted the media since the stinging loss to the Swans, coming after a controversial finish when the Tigers were not paid a 50-metre penalty when the siren sounded.
Dion Prestia was awarded a free kick 65m from goal, a split second after the final siren sounded, prompting Swans midfielder Chad Warner to take possession and boot the ball into the crowd.
The Tigers felt a 50m penalty should have been paid but umpire John Howarth told Richmond players at the time that Warner couldn’t have heard, common sense, OK? Prestia’s shot on goal fell well short.
to post: Common sense. Sorry, what?
On Monday, he joked his dog had sent the tweet, but said his players now had clarity.
Clarity is always something we crave. Once again, we can understand [why] the decision was made. Big crowd noise, the game appeared to be over … there are going to be times again when 50s are decided by whether the umpire thinks they [players] hear the whistle or they don’t, he said.
The AFL had immediately backed the umpire’s call.
Hardwick weighs in on soft cap
Hardwick has added his voice to growing agitation over the soft football department cap, declaring clubs for the first time are losing top off-field talent but need to be more unified in their bid for greater funding.
While other areas of football departments, and league executive salaries, have returned to pre-COVID levels, football department spending has not been allowed to snap back, sparking suggestions it could limit a club’s ability to lure
The league introduced cuts of about $3 million per club in 2020, meaning staffing levels, including coaching and fitness, often remain under-resourced, the flow on being those still there are under greater stress with a demanding workload.
, Hardwick said clubs were now losing great people to other aspects of the sporting environment.
One thing we would say is, a lot of us travel overseas, the coaches and the resources we have available in AFL land are second to none, no question, but the fact of the matter is, with a cap in place, people are starting to leave the environment, which we have never seen before, Hardwick said.
It used to be the environment where people would come but because [they] are being paid more money elsewhere, they are getting dragged out.
Collingwood president Jeff Browne and Swans chairman Andrew Pridham have called for a soft cap rise of at least $500,000.
Pridham pointed out staff – including medical and fitness staff – could earn more elsewhere, a key point when living in Sydney where cost-of-living pressures, particularly house prices and/or renting, are most expensive.
You have a capped environment where you are in an open marketplace. Players are a bit different because they are either playing football or playing some other sport … but the reality is, it is a significant disadvantage to the two clubs based in Sydney, Pridham told 3AW.
One suggestion is for 50 per cent of a senior coach salary to sit outside the cap.
Hardwick agreed with this plan, for he felt the Tigers were at a particular disadvantage because they had been so successful, and had to pay more to retain top talent.
No question. That to me is how we gain parity in the competition. I don’t think my players should come in and be at a disadvantage just because we have been successful over a period of time. We should be entitled to have the same resources as every other club, he said.
The AFL’s soft cap this year is $6. 5 million – up about $300,000 from last year but still more than $3 million below the 2019 limit of $9. 7 million. Few clubs, including the wealthy ones, pay over that amount, choosing to avoid a hefty tax if they spend more.
However, not all clubs are in unison when it comes to lobbying AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan for an increase.
To be fair, I think Gill has a great understanding of what our desires are and probably agrees with them, Hardwick said.
The fact of the matter is, there are clubs out there that probably are in disagreement. Probably, we have got to get all of our ducks in a row at club land and figure out exactly what we need and what we want.
Hardwick pointed to what shapes as a bumper new broadcast rights deal to help improve league finances, while noting wages have increased back across various other aspects of the business but for people within football departments it hasn’t.
Clarkson, should he return to coaching next season, could command a seven-figure salary, but Hardwick said his great mate would accept less.
He will come back in, no question. Alastair Clarkson is worth an exorbitant amount of money with his knowledge and the IP [intellectual property] he has, but he is that sort of guy, like most of us are, that will take less to make sure we get the right people around us. Guys like Alastair Clarkson don’t grow on trees, Hardwick said.
Dogs won’t fight headbutt suspension
Western Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith will miss the next two matches after the club accepted the two-match suspension offered for his headbutt on Geelong’s Zach Tuohy.
was assessed as intentional conduct, medium impact and high contact.
I’m disappointed to be missing the next two matches [against GWS and Hawthorn], and regret that I won’t be able to help my team-mates on the field during that period, Smith told the Bulldogs’ website.
I understand what happened was outside of what’s expected of AFL players. Unfortunately, I let my emotions get the better of me, which is out of character for me. ″
Tuohy sported a mark on his forehead from the headbutt but played down the incident after the game.
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