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“I hate it”: Neil Balme slams the AFL over lengthy bump suspensions


Richmond Senior Club Advisor Neil Balme has called out the AFL over the lengthy bans being dished out to players over bumps that cause concussions.

Star Tiger Liam Baker received a one-game ban for a collision with Sydney’s Lewis Melican, with Richmond unable to overturn the suspension at the Tribunal overnight.

We have seen the likes of Peter Wright (four weeks), Sam Powell-Pepper (four weeks) and Jimmy Webster (seven weeks) handed significant suspensions for these bumps already in 2024.

Balme feels these calls are unfair on the players, particularly those making split second decisions while attacking the footy.

“I certainly do (think the AFL has taken it too far), personally,” Balme told SEN SA’s Sportsday.

“We kind of get where they’re going and we’ve got to protect the head and these legal issues with concussion, I kind of get it, but it does seem really unfair to players.

“The Essendon kid (Peter Wright) goes for the ball and gets four weeks. I mean, he hasn’t meant to do any of that and it’s ‘oh well he wasn’t going for the ball, he turned’ – it’s a half of a half of a half of a second that he’s got to make a decision.

“Baker was the same. He’s bumped into him and he’s going to get a week. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

“I think it’s just soft in its own way. If you look at the rest of the way our guys are playing right now, it’s wonderful. The contesting and the tackling, it’s a terrific contest, but these little things happen and it’s ‘we’ve got to give you four weeks’.

“I hate it. I don’t think it’s fair to the players, personally, but they’re not listening to me, the AFL, I can guarantee you.”

A depleted Richmond side, missing the likes of Tom Lynch, Noah Balta, Josh Gibcus, Dion Prestia, Jacob Hopper, Baker and more, will face St Kilda in this weekend’s Gather Round.

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Sportsday Richmond

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