A month ago, David Mackay was sent to the tribunal because he didn’t offer a sufficient duty of care to his opponent Hunter Clark.
This week Tom Doedee left the ground concussed because he didn’t show sufficient duty of care to himself. Or to Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, whom he clattered into, for that matter.
Doedee ran back with the flight of the ball to spoil. He could assume a pack was coming. If he took his eyes off the ball to check, and so protect himself and the players coming the other way, he would be at risk of giving away a free kick.
Umpires are instructed to take a cue for front-on contact from whether or not a player’s eyes are on the ball. This is not in the rules. Nowhere does it say you can’t look at your opponent before a marking contest. But that is how it is applied.
So, back to Tom Doedee. If he has a duty of care to the opposition then he must look. If he looks, the AFL tells its umpires to consider that he might be targeting the opposition player, not the ball, and he is at risk of giving away a free kick.
The player going with the flight must be told to look for what is coming. Crows coach Matthew Nicks wanted his player to pull out of the contest but knew he wouldn’t. He should have.
A change to the eyes on the ball guideline for umpires would probably not change what Doedee did and he would have run back only with eyes for the ball anyway. But in not dissimilar circumstances other players would, and should, look up.
Costly Lions losses
Some losses are worse than others. This was a Brisbane loss that had a profound effect on their finals hopes. Losing Cam Rayner early in the year to a knee reconstruction was one thing, but losing Eric Hipwood is another.
Midfielders, as good as Rayner was becoming, can be covered. Key forwards are not so readily replaced. The combination of losing two top ten talents out of the team naturally weakens the Lions, with the weakening such that they now look an unlikely flag contender. It is doubtful they could win it without Hipwood and Rayner.
Hipwood is not a superstar, he has always looked like he could be without ever quite elevating his game with any regularity to that level, but he’s an awkward player and one who was capable of turning a game.
The Lions moved Dan McStay to second key forward alongside Joe Daniher on Saturday after Hipwood went off but McStay is a level below Hipwood for a flag contending side.
Hipwood was the type of player who, tag-teaming with Daniher, could unsettle Melbourne’s potent defensive pairing of May and Lever. They could stretch the Dogs’ tall backs and they could deny Geelong the liberty of freeing up Tom Stewart. All of those teams will feel more comfortable playing against a Brisbane side without Hipwood in it.
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