AFL greats slam umpiring inconsistency
AFL legend Brad Johnson says diving to win free kicks through the sliding rule has become the new version of ducking.
Johnson called on the AFL to tighten the rule because of constant milking for free kicks.
Former coach Rodney Eade said contact-below-the-knees free kicks should only be paid if the player in low went past the ball to win possession.
West Coast's Jamie Cripps was paid a free when he toppled over Collingwood's Tom Phillips on Saturday night despite having no intent to win the ball.
It was just one of a series of contentious calls over the weekend that will keep the spotlight on umpiring after a turbulent season by the whistleblowers.
"The shoulder shrug has gone and this seems to be the new-age shoulder shrug," Johnson told Fox Footy.
"It's the one the players are exploiting to get a free kick. (Cripps) knew exactly what he was doing and searched for the free. It will change, I think we will see a shift."
Eade proposed a common sense alteration to the rule labelled an "absolute disgrace" by AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield.
"The guy who wins the footy, if he doesn't go past the ball he shouldn't be penalised," Eade said.
"He hasn't moved, he's not affecting the guy who hasn't got the footy."
Pies coach Nathan Buckley was bemused that Phillips was penalised and then Jaidyn Stephenson was hit with a 50m penalty for throwing the ball back to the wrong player.
"I suppose you could tell the level of confusion. Stevo thought it was a free kick (to us) and we got penalised 50m.
"It was unfortunate for us, it's a bit of a grey area. I feel for the umpires, it's a hard one to officiate."
Sydney superstar Lance Franklin received a dubious free kick for off-the-ball niggle in the first quarter against Carlton on Saturday after umpire Jacob Mollison ignored what Wayne Carey described as 20 off-the-ball whacks between Franklin and Liam Jones.
"I just think we've got to be careful," Swans coach John Longmire said.
"We don't want to do anything silly off the ball but it's also a contact sport and we've got to be mindful a goal either way is a big penalty.
Carey labelled the Franklin free "crap" on Triple M and blasted the inconsistency.
Franklin then went unrewarded for a kicking in danger free kick when former teammate Nic Newman nearly took his head off with a wild swing of his leg.
Premiership Hawk Xavier Ellis blamed the "ever-changing" rules on the spate of confusing decisions.
"You need a 10-year degree (to umpire). Stephen Hawking is underqualified," Ellis said.
Fremantle goalkicker Hayden Ballantyne replied to Brendan Fevola's sarcastic tweet that "umpires are awesome" with: "Said no one ever". Ballantyne then deleted the post.
Former Melbourne captain Brad Green called for a review into Round 3 decisions.
"It's seriously turning our great game into a joke. Every umpire's interpretations are different to the next," Green said.