‘You’ve got to look after yourself as well’: Dangerfield claims no realistic alternative

Patrick Dangerfield says he didn’t think he had a realistic alternative than to bump Adelaide’s Jake Kelly in the incident which has the Geelong superstar staring down the barrel of several weeks on the sidelines.

The Brownlow medallist spent part of Monday planning his defence with Cats hierarchy ahead of a tribunal appearance on Tuesday night. Match review officer Michael Christian assessed the incident – which knocked out Dangerfield’s former teammate Kelly – as careless rough conduct to the head with severe impact. 

Patrick Dangerfield, left, collides with Crows defender Jake Kelly.

According to the AFL’s 2021 tribunal guidelines, “the purpose of the rule dealing with high bumps is to reduce, as far as practicable, the risk of head injuries to players and this purpose needs to be kept firmly in mind by all players. For the purpose of these guidelines, head clashes that result when a player has elected to bump are circumstances that can reasonably be foreseen”.

Speaking on Monday, Dangerfield said he didn’t think, at the time, there was another option.

“I think it’s easy to review something at 30 frames per second. I think as much as you have a [duty of care] to look after the health and safety of others around you, you’ve got to look after yourself as well. But who knows, we’ll find out when we do,” Dangerfield said.

“It’s a split moment to make a decision on protecting yourself with incoming opponents, and that happens every week. But we’ll wait and see how it all pans out.”

Dangerfield said he appreciated the AFL landscape, where concussion is an increasingly big issue, played a part in the manner in which the incident was handled.

“It’s still a collision game. I certainly appreciate and understand that looking after concussion and the head is extremely important but you also have a [duty of care] to yourself to protect yourself when you are in an environment, in a game where you can collide with others,” he said.

“It’s a contact game but we’ve also got to make sure that we’re looking after concussion and approaching that in the right way, and respecting that. But it’s also a game that’s played in 360 [degrees] at high speed and it’s been a part of the game for a long period of time.

“I think it’s folly to look back through different cases because it can change, who knows how it’s going to play out.”

Patrick Dangerfield has been sent to the tribunal for this hit on Jake Kelly.Credit:Fox Footy

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley did not provide his opinion on what the sanction should be, but said players were fully aware of the repercussions of serious head knocks.

“That rule has been in place for a while now. I don’t think we are in between eras in that regard. We are always in between in the old and the new and it’s often a significant event that will reinforce the line between what was accepted and what is now expected,” Buckley said.

“It is difficult when you are playing the game, though. You have got to put pressure on in that instance and the type of pressure that you choose to put on is really a matter of choice.“

However, Buckley believes Dangerfield had not shown any malicious intent.

“We operate to the laws as they are written. When I say we, the 18 clubs and the coaches and players within it,” he said.

“I think it’s important to note that those two are really good mates. Things happen on the football field. I am pretty sure Patrick, there wasn’t any malice or malicious intent in the action as such but there was head contact and the laws are clear around that.

“The AFL or the tribunal have a decision to make. Good mates who met each other on the football field, Patrick’s actions were understandable because you want to put pressure on a player but there was a head clash and there were repercussions from that, so I suppose we all sit and watch for the tribunal to validate the laws that have been put in place and to what level.”

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