An errant golf ball to the head has left St Kilda spearhead Max King as one of the first players to miss an AFL match for premiership points under the league’s new 12-day concussion rule.
The freak accident comes as the league continues to weigh up whether to introduce a concussion substitute for the 2021 season — a change pushed by coaches during a meeting with league boss Gillon McLachlan last week — just days before the season is set to begin on Thursday night.
The Saints confirmed on Sunday that King would miss the round one date with Greater Western Sydney in Sydney next Sunday after being struck by a golf ball while playing a round in Brighton on Thursday with friends on his day off.
Tests showed that the youngster had suffered what the club has described as “mild concussion,” automatically ruling him out of the game against the Giants under the AFL’s new rules in which players cannot play in the 12-day window after being concussed.
King’s absence for the clash adds to a lengthy list of unavailable Saints, with ruckmen Rowan Marshall (foot) and Paddy Ryder (personal) both also sidelined along with Dan Hannebery (calf), Ben Paton (leg), Jarryn Geary (leg), James Frawley (hamstring) and Brad Crouch (suspension). Zak Jones (hamstring) is, however, pushing to play against GWS.
“It’s obviously a blow to lose Max for round one, but player health and wellbeing – particularly when it comes to concussion – is paramount,” St Kilda chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said.
“We’ll continue to monitor Max over the next week and take every measure necessary to ensure he is on track for round two.”
The Saints’ round one clash is proceeding as planned at this stage despite the coronavirus outbreak in Sydney however the AFL continues to monitor the situation there, as well as in Brisbane where there has also been a recent outbreak, with health and safety remaining a priority for the league.