Eddie McGuire has urged umpires to be vigilant when players stay down after injuries, suggesting it could « become a tactic ».
While umpires have traditionally stopped play for concussions, play has increasingly been stopped for minor injuries as well, prompting concerns from Geelong great Jimmy Bartel.
Bartel pointed to an incident involving Port Adelaide’s Jason Horne-Francis in Saturday’s semi final against the GWS Giants as a prime example of umpires pausing play for a minor injury.
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Horne-Francis stayed down momentarily after copping a poke to the eye from Giants star Stephen Coniglio, with umpires not throwing the ball up until he was tended to by Port’s trainers. The Port star got back onto his feet and stayed on the ground after having his eye checked out.
« What’s happened a lot this year is a player goes down for anything, the game stops, » Bartel asked on the Eddie and Jimmy podcast.
« Why so? Why hasn’t it been explained to us? »
McGuire backed umpires for stopping the game for eye-pokes, but said any other injuries should see play continue.
The former Collingwood president stressed the importance of tending to eye-related injuries after Magpies big man Mason Cox suffered a torn retina due to an accidental poke in 2019.
« Like a lot of things, it just changes as it goes, » he said on the podcast.
« I don’t mind it necessarily if it’s a poke in the eye (because) somebody could lose their eye. Everyone goes, ‘Well they’ve been saying that forever’, Mason Cox nearly did (lose his eye).
« You don’t want it to go forever … because we don’t want this becoming a tactic.
« In the old days you brought the stretcher on and everybody played around you, bad luck keep going. If you couldn’t take your kick, they’d throw the ball to your teammate and off you go.
« We’ve got to be careful. Have a look, there’s plenty of umpires now, that’s the whole idea of four umpires. The whole idea of four umpires is to give you a bit of flexibility out there so one of them should be deployed (to deal with injuries). »