Fremantle coach Ross Lyon labelled the Etihad Stadium surface “dangerous” after star playmaker Nat Fyfe was reported for tripping in Sunday’s tense win over the Western Bulldogs.
The Brownlow Medal favourite went into the umpire’s book after he clashed legs with Koby Stevens while attempting a tackle in the pocket on the city side of the ground at the Coventry End.
Lyon was unwilling to comment directly on the third-quarter incident, but was happy to air his views on the stadium’s turf. “What I can talk about is the side of the ground it happened,” Lyon said.
“The left-hand side’s as dry as a chip, the other side people are slipping and sliding and slipping over like sprinklers have been on an hour before the game.
“I’m not sure, but it was very confusing when I walked the ground, and that far side is wet and slippery and the other side’s as dry as a chip. If someone can explain that to me?
“That far end, you can see everyone was slipping and sliding and this one was dry. (I’m a) very confused AFL coach at how that ground can end up in that state.
“I think it’s quite dangerous for players when one side’s as dry as a chip and the other side is like a slippery slide.
“Anyone that slipped on that side, Western Bulldogs or Fremantle, I think they’ve got a fair contributing factor.”
Fyfe faces an anxious wait before finding how the AFL match review panel assesses the incident, with any suspension ruling him out of Brownlow contention for a second year running.
Stadium management, however, defended the state of the turf, which had not been watered after Saturday’s Carlton-GWS game or on the day of the Dockers’ clash with the Bulldogs that took place with the roof closed.
“Whilst there was a small amount of dew on the eastern side of the arena during the early stages of today’s Western Bulldogs-Fremantle match, it is not unusual for a venue of our size,” CEO Paul Sergeant said via a statement obtained by AAP.
“The field needs a constant supply of natural light, air and water. If there’s not an expectation of rain overnight before AFL events, then the roof needs to be left open.
“Etihad Stadium supports the AFL’s decision to close the roof for today’s match. We always endeavour to move the roof prior to the opening of the venue to the public.”
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge had no issue with the surface, which he said was “in great condition”.