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History bodes ill for Viney

The Age logo The Age 7/05/2014
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Even outgoing AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou admits the league might have to revisit the rule change that led to Jack Viney's controversial suspension as the football community condemned the tribunal's decision.

But despite Demetriou's surprise support, Viney is unlikely to succeed when the Melbourne onballer goes before the AFL appeals board tonight. Only one appeal of the past 14 has been successful.

Melbourne is challenging Viney's two-week suspension for rough conduct against Adelaide opponent Tom Lynch in a landmark case that has reignited debate about the future of the bump.

It was a big enough hot potato for the match review panel to refer it directly to Tuesday's tribunal hearing without any grading.

Demetriou was unusually candid yesterday when asked about the case, particularly given he knew Melbourne had lodged its appeal. He said Viney was "very unlucky" to be suspended.

Lynch was left with a broken jaw after he was sandwiched between Viney and fellow Demon Alex Georgiou. Demetriou, who hands over to Gillon McLachlan early in June, said his successor and AFL football operations manager Mark Evans might have to revisit the league's stricter interpretation of head-high contact.

The new provision was introduced after an incident in 2013 in which North Melbourne forward Lindsay Thomas escaped sanction for head-high contact with Collingwood defender Ben Reid.

"I have got … enormous empathy for Jack Viney … as I have for the lad who has a broken jaw," Demetriou said. "It's a complex situation [in which] everyone has a right to have a view. There is potentially an argument to say that in an attempt to address the issue of Lindsay Thomas, the rule perhaps has gone too far. But that's an argument for [McLachlan and Evans] to resolve."

Demetriou also acknowledged that the wording of the new rule made it tough for Melbourne to beat the charge against Viney.

But the outgoing AFL boss said regardless of the appeal result, he didn't think the bump was dead or the game had lost its toughness.

"I always encourage people - you've only got to go and sit on the fence or sit on the bench and listen to a game … to hear the physicality," he said.

"The clashes, the slapping, the intensity that's out there on the football field, it's actually incredible and much different [from] when we played."

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