Michael Christian must have been feeling charitable when he cleared Tom Lynch, Brodie Grundy and Jarman Impey. Not so charitable as to release the three from fines, but charitable enough that no suspensions were issued.
Grundy was fined $2000 for a bump on tory Dickson, all the more reason to question pre-season play. Lynch was dinged for the same amount for a high collection on Mitch Robinson.
Impey received a $500 discount and fined only $1500 for his head butt of Jed Lamb.
Under the new arrangement that grants Christian omnipotence over whether an infraction in pre-season play can result in a suspension for the home-and-away portion of the competition, well, at least deciding if the infraction goes further to the match review board, all three players must be sincerely relieved to not miss Round 1 of the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiershipcompetition.
The league added to its coffers by taking $1000 from Essendon forward Josh Green, who was declared guilty of staging. Green went to the ground as the result of minimal contact win Mitch Duncan. Green’s act was worthy of soccer, or LeBron James.
The AFL handed gobs of power to Christian as part of an attempt to keep the decision-making regarding suspensions and fines more streamlined and efficient. It remains to be seen how effective the plan will be, especially as the season grinds on and the ramifications of losing a player are much greater.
The incident that immediately springs to mind happened last year, before Christian assumed his new role, when runaway Brownlow Medal candidate Patrick Dangerfield was suspended late in the season, effectively handing the award to Dustin Martin.
As a former player himself, Christian offers keen insight into what should be an offense worthy of suspension and the AFL hopes that he can nip the bulk of the incidents in the bud before resorting to a lengthy appeals process.
That, along with the $10,000 the league intends to charge for a club to file an appeal, are two big changes that will be under scrutiny in 2018.