AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan believes Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli “should be walking away” from off-field incidents, disagreeing with the stance Richmond coach Damien Hardwick took earlier this week.
Bolton and Rioli were caught up in a fight at a Melbourne CBD nightclub on Saturday night, with Bolton sustaining a fractured wrist which will see him miss up to three weeks of football, while Rioli suffered a bruised eye.
The Tigers pair became involved after Rioli’s partner was subject to “inappropriate behaviour”, according to a club statement.
In an interview on AFL 360, Hardwick backed his players’ version of events, saying that anyone in a similar situation would have stood up for their partner.
Speaking for the first time on the incident, McLachlan said the AFL was still investigating the circumstances around what happened, saying both Bolton and Rioli “should be walking away” from potential scuffles in public.
“We haven’t finished (investigating),” he told reporters on Thursday morning.
“The integrity team are doing what they do and they haven’t finished that. My view is I respect Damien’s view, but it’s different.
“Our players, and I ask all players, I don’t condone violence and they should be walking away.
“It’s difficult at times, I know that provocation exists and circumstances are always relevant but my general position is that people need to walk away and be above that.
“Let’s see where everything plays out in terms of the report and then if appropriate I would have more to say.
“I think it’s difficult to comment on stuff if it’s known that the integrity department are having a look at it.”