Dermott Brereton believes Melbourne’s Bayley Fritsch is putting together an unwanted track record.
The Hawthorn champion rates the football ability of the classy Demons forward, but has seen a couple of unsavoury incidents this season which have not been good for his reputation.
The latest one came in the final quarter of Saturday night’s draw with the Hawks when he took first-year defender Denver Grainger-Barass out of the play in a marking contest.
“Last week we were talking about faux tough guys and we mentioned a couple,” he said on SEN’s Bob & Andy.
“Now Bayley Fritsch is a seriously talented player, but he’s getting a little bit of a bad rep.
“I thought he picked off a kid, Grainger-Barass, in a marking contest and popped his shoulder. Kudos to the kid, he is a tough kid.
“Bayley Fritsch picked him off in the marking contest. There’s no way he could have got back to the ball if there hadn’t been the third man up.”
There have been two other Fritsch incidents, namely against Essendon and North Melbourne, which went unpunished by the MRO but caught the attention of Brereton.
“He’s got a bit of a track record,” he added.
“There are some that say he should have been cited when he pushed Nick Hind into the point post. I thought that was a lot closer than the league deliberated. I thought he exited the scene very quickly and there was a score thereafter so things sort of got smoothed over on the spot and not too much of a push and shove developed.
“Against North Melbourne, the kid (Tom) Powell. When Fritsch went to fend him off, he put up a stiff-arm elbow into the side of the head of the kid. He got carted off with concussion and the league said, ‘nothing to see here’.
“If ever you want to disguise hurting somebody, have the ball, it’s a very good way to do it. You can say you’re playing the ball.
“Bayley Fritsch is a serious player, but he has some form when he’s taken on the opponent when perhaps that’s not what he should have been doing.”
The former star centre half-forward was questioned on why he sees Fritsch’s deliberate actions differently to those of aggressive Richmond ruckman Toby Nankervis.
“The reason I can identify is because I used to do it, so I sympathise with him,” he added.
“Why I brought this to the table is there’s enough of a history there now with these borderline incidents to suggest it’s not accidental. It’s a considered action when he’s doing these things.
“The thing is you don’t want to lose him to suspension if another one of these happens because there is a track record there.
“Nankervis knows the line to go to. As much as I can hurt the opposition without taking in the wrath of the Match Review Panel.”
Despite this, Fritsch has been Melbourne’s most potent forward in 2021, returning a club-high 35 goals and taking the most marks inside 50 for the Demons.
He sits equal eighth in the Coleman Medal race with his career-best season tally.