Heath Shaw found himself in the spotlight on Friday night.
Heath Shaw found himself in the spotlight on Friday night.

Ugly moment shows AFL needs to change

St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt has urged the AFL to get tough on players sliding along the ground to rid the game of dangerous contact below the knees.

GWS defender Heath Shaw cleaned up Saints star Dan Butler during St Kilda's 12.10 (82) to 3.12 (30) demolition of the Giants on Friday night, leading Riewoldt to call for action to prevent similar incidents from happening in future.

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Shaw hit the deck as he challenged Butler for the footy but Riewoldt says such a move risked snapping a leg in half - and he doesn't want to see it anymore.

The AFL has tried to get punching out of the game by introducing harsh penalties for striking, and Riewoldt suggested the rules need to be altered so players are warned off sliding and potentially ending someone's career.

"We all cringed when we saw that occur. You only need to get that leg stuck and it's potentially career-ending that sort of injury, they can be horrific," Riewoldt said on Fox Footy.

"This isn't by any means an attack on Heath Shaw, he's a really fair player - but I think what the AFL has done with legislating to get front on contact out of the game (should be done for sliding as well).

"That is so close to a snapped in half leg, so I just wonder whether the AFL now can move past that being just a free kick and actually legislate that sliding action out of the game.

"Fines don't work."

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Heath Shaw was lucky to escape with only a free kick.
Heath Shaw was lucky to escape with only a free kick.

Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton suggested even though Shaw didn't act with any malice, he would have regretted the play.

"Heath Shaw would look back at that and go, 'I didn't get that quite right'," Brereton said. "He was giving away a professional free kick - he's not the kind who would do it in malice.

"He would look back at that and go, 'Gee, that was bad what I just did'."

The incident involving Shaw and Butler brought back memories of an injury suffered by Saint Dan Hannebery when playing for the Swans in the 2016 grand final.

The midfielder's day ended after his left knee bent awkwardly when collected by Western Bulldogs star Easton Wood, who dived in to win the Sherrin in the final quarter of the Dogs' victory.

 

Originally published as Ugly moment shows AFL needs to change



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