June 12, 2024

‘It’s gone too far:’ Lyon wants to hear less about contentious umpiring calls

AFL BriefingSportAFLAFL 2024
Updated June 12, 2024 — 11.45pmfirst published at 5.40pm
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In today’s AFL briefing:

Collingwood appear to be through the worst of their injury crisis with a premiership trio earmarked to return in a fortnight’s time.Sydney coach John Longmire remains open to further tinkering with what he called an “uneven competition”.Carlton expect Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern to both be available for blockbuster clash against Geelong.Ross Lyon claims the AFL has “gone too far” with public explanations of contentious umpiring.

Why Cox’s return is being delayed

Andrew Wu

Collingwood ruckman Mason Cox’s return from his knee injury is being delayed by persistent concussion symptoms, but the reigning premiers appear to be through the worst of their injury crisis.

While young gun Nick Daicos is no certainty to take the field this weekend against North Melbourne, premiership trio Scott Pendlebury, Jordan De Goey and Brody Mihocek have all been earmarked for a return against Gold Coast in a fortnight’s time.

Mason Cox is yet to clear AFL concussion protocols, nearly three weeks after his injury against Fremantle.Credit: Getty

Their impending returns will significantly bolster the Pies, who despite a slow start to their premiership defence, could finish the round as high as second with favourable results.

Barring any mishaps this weekend, the Pies could have as few as four of their best 22 unavailable after the bye.

Nearly three weeks after suffering hurting his knee and cheek in a nasty accident against Fremantle, Cox is yet to clear the AFL’s concussion protocols.

Limited to only low-level rehabilitation on his medial collateral ligament injury, Cox cannot increase loading with strength and conditioning until he clears the protocols.


The Pies covered his absence on King’s Birthday with Nathan Kreuger, who was an unlikely hero with three goals in just his 10th game – and first in more than 12 months.

Daicos’ availability to face bottom-placed North Melbourne will likely hinge on how much training he can get through on Friday after copping two knocks to his shin against Melbourne.

Mihocek was on track to be available next week if the Pies did not have a bye, but is set to return the following week against the Suns, along with Pendlebury and De Goey.

There is also good news for star forward Jamie Elliott, whose vascular issue has almost resolved. He could be back as early as in five weeks to face Geelong.

Key forward Dan McStay will step up his training after the bye when he joins larger group contact drills, keeping him on track for a return in the second half of the season from the anterior cruciate ligament tear he suffered in November.

‘Not an even comp’: Swans coach Longmire denies byes benefit


Sydney coach John Longmire has shot down suggestions his club gained an unfair advantage when the AFL handed them two early season byes, but remains open to further tinkering with what he called an “uneven competition”.

The Swans’ fixture for 2024 included byes in rounds five and 12 as a result of their inaugural opening-round match.

Having defeated Geelong in their first game after the second of those byes, they sit at the top of the ladder – two wins clear of the pack and boasting the highest percentage.

Meanwhile, some clubs have yet to enjoy a bye, with Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs among the teams that will have to wait until next round for their only rest weekend.

Sydney chairman Andrew Pridham has spoken out to deny there was any correlation between the club’s results and their fixturing, pointing to the 13th-placed Brisbane Lions who also had two byes.

Carlton, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney, Collingwood, Richmond and Melbourne are the other clubs to have been handed two byes this season, with mixed results.

“Andrew was just pointing out that it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only reason we’ve had a good year to date,” Longmire said on Wednesday.

“Everyone forgets that we went from two or three practice games straight into the season.

“We had a nine-week block there that was pretty solid. We didn’t have that bye at the start of the season that other teams had.”

But well aware of the current inequalities across the competition, Longmire is open to adjusting the current fixturing of byes.

“It’s not an even competition. Anyone that says it is isn’t talking sense,” he said, raising additional examples of home-ground advantage and travel.

McKay, McGovern in line to face Geelong

Andrew Wu

Carlton expect Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern to both be available for their blockbuster clash against Geelong after the bye.

McKay hurt his shoulder in a clash in the final quarter against Essendon but avoided concussion and played out the game after a short stint on the bench.

McGovern, who has a long history of soft tissue injuries, finished the match on the bench due to soreness in his glute, but has avoided further damage.

Ravaged by injury a month ago, the Blues’ casualty ward is starting to clear. Adam Cerra, Matthew Cottrell, Jack Martin and David Cuningham are considered chances to face the Cats.

Lyon wants to hear less about contentious umpiring


Ross Lyon claims the AFL has “gone too far” with public explanations of contentious umpiring decisions after the league admitted Max King should not have been paid a free kick late in St Kilda’s narrow win over Gold Coast.

King booted the Saints’ match-winning goal in a dour contest last Saturday night after Suns defender Mac Andrew was penalised for holding his opponent in a wrestle for position off the ball.

Gold Coast’s Mac Andrew had an important free kick paid against him. Credit:

AFL umpires boss Stephen McBurney came out within 24 hours and admitted the free kick should not have been given to King, while ticking off separate crucial decisions in victories by North Melbourne and Hawthorn.

The league has made a point of trying to be more “transparent” with fans and media over game-related issues this season.

But Saints coach Lyon isn’t impressed, raising his issue with the move during his regular mid-week press conference on Wednesday.

“I just don’t understand how we emphasise one free kick and talk about that’s influenced the match and that’s the outcome,” Lyon said. “I don’t like that the AFL comes out and clarifies it.

“I’ve been to big finals and moved on [from umpiring decisions], and I just think why is one free kick more important than another?”

Lyon said he often sees vision of King and other forwards being “mauled” behind the ball, and asks the AFL privately for clarity.

“They say, ‘Yeah, we missed that one, we missed that one. If there’s one arm around the chest it’s a free kick, it doesn’t need to be two’,” Lyon said.

“So I’m not in agreeance with the AFL coming out and trying to rationalise and settle things down.

“How about there’s a decision made, and we all accept it and move on? I just think it’s gone too far.”

On Sunday, McBurney, the league’s head of officiating, said King and Andrew were grappling at the crucial moment in St Kilda’s three-point victory at Marvel Stadium, and conceded the whistle should not have been blown.

“We totally understand why he’s paid it because he has seen arms around … we just don’t see, with the benefit of all the angles we get, that it was the right outcome for the amount of contact occurring between both players,” McBurney said.

He said correct calls were made in Saturday’s matches when West Coast’s Elliot Yeo was penalised for holding the ball and Hawthorn captain James Sicily was bumped after his kick.

The decisions led to crucial goals in North Melbourne’s win over the Eagles and the Hawks’ triumph over Greater Western Sydney.


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