Written by AFL Online on 4th Sep 2012
Geelong have made a wide-ranging criticism of the AFL tribunal system following Steve Johnson’s one-game suspension and Paul Chapman’s reprimand before the finals.
Cats football manager Neil Balme said on Tuesday the system put too much pressure on players and there was an over-analysis of incidents to determine whether there should be penalties.
Balme also said Johnson’s Sydney opponent Dan Hannebery had contributed to the incident that resulted in the Cats star being suspended for rough conduct.
Johnson will miss Saturday night’s elimination final against Fremantle after the Cats accepted his suspension.
They would have risked a two-game ban for Johnson had they taken the case to the tribunal.
Likewise, they decided not to challenge the reprimand handed to Chapman after he was booked for striking Swans midfielder Ben McGlynn.
Chapman received 60 carryover points, making him one of several Geelong players who go into the finals with points hanging over their heads if they are reported again.
“The reason we love going to the footy is because we play on the edge,” Balme said in a video posted on the Cats website after they accepted the two penalties.
“The challenge on the players is a really very hard test.
“In my view, those sorts of things are either obvious or they’re not.
“If someone intentionally whacks someone, well, I think we’re all happy with him getting weeks.
“But when we’ve got to look through it and say ‘maybe this happened and maybe it didn’t’, it’s very hard on the players.”
Balme made it clear that Geelong did not agree with the match review panel’s decision to charge Johnson over the Hannebery incident.
Johnson bumped Hannebery well off the ball, dropping him to the ground.
Hannebery did not see the bump coming, but Balme said he should have been more aware.
“We have seen cases like this before and he certainly hasn’t whacked him, he hasn’t used his elbow, he hasn’t hit his head, he hasn’t done any of those things, he’s simply bumped into him,” Balme said.
“The other bloke wasn’t actually looking, he probably should have been because he was trying to tag our player and then he knocks him over and we treat it as a serious offence.
“While we have accepted the MRP’s position, we certainly aren’t happy with it.
“We don’t think that sort of thing should be potentially two weeks or one week as we’ve accepted now.”
Balme said from a justice point of view, the Cats would have liked to have taken the Johnson case to the tribunal.
He added that the Chapman incident was “accidental at worst – a little bit agricultural perhaps”
“Certainly we would not think it was worth being rubbed out for.
“While we don’t really think that’s a reportable offence, we probably have to accept it.”