Season 2020 is yet to begin and already the AFL’s controversial match review system is under pressure.
North Melbourne’s Marley Williams is set to come under scrutiny for his head-high hit on Bulldog Ed Richards on Friday night, which left the latter lying dazed on the Marvel Stadium turf.
A concussed Richards was assisted from the field with the Western Bulldogs yet to put a date on his return.
Commentator David King says Match Review Officer Michael Christian needs to take a stand against head-high contact and hand down a penalty others will learn from.
“I think it is about changing behaviour,” King told Fox Footy.
“We’ve had this crackdown for two or three years now on protecting the head and it’s not working.
“I think we’re going to learn a lot on where (Christian) sits with this.
“I mean if it is a one or a two-week suspension, is that really going to change behaviour?
“I think there is an opportunity here at the start of 2020 to say this has to be outlawed from our game.
“If you’re going to change behaviour, it has to be four or five weeks.”
There were plenty of controversial head-high contact decisions made by the MRO in 2019, including the decision to not penalise superstars Nat Fyfe and Gary Ablett Jnr in round eight, while young Roo Sam Durdin was slapped with a one-match ban.
The three cases, all assessed in the same week, drew widespread criticism at the time. Fyfe went on to win the 2019 Brownlow Medal.
A decision on Williams’ case will be handed down this week.