Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has demanded immediate clarification of the AFL’s rules surrounding the use of stretchers following their nailbiting three-point loss to Sydney.
Leppitsch was seen remonstrating with officials immediately following Sunday’s match at the Gabba, in which ruckman Callum Sinclair was taken off the ground with three minutes to go in the final quarter with the game still in the balance.
A fuming Leppitsch suggested the Swans might have used the stretcher as a tactic and that the incident may have influenced the result.
The ball was in play and in dispute in Brisbane’s forward 50 at the time, with the Lions trailing by three points, when a stretcher was called for Sinclair, who was at the other end of the field in Sydney’s forward pocket.
Sinclair had gone to ground after a battle for the ball with Lions defender Darcy Gardiner, who bumped him, and appeared to be clutching his knee, writhing around in agony.
The game was stopped, allowing the Swans to flood numbers back, before Sinclair eventually hobbled off the ground and play was re-started with a ball-up, with no stretcher in sight.
Sydney’s Luke Parker kicked the match-sealing goal shortly afterwards.
“I don’t know the ruling behind it, maybe I’m wrong, but my understanding is the play has to stop before the stretcher comes out, not the other way around,” he said.
“We all saw it, a bloke tripped over his own feet and they called a stretcher.
“Can we use it as a tactic, now, can we? I don’t know.
“I suppose I’ve asked some questions to get some answers but I’d be highly disappointed if it was used as a tactic when a bloke’s gone down with assumedly cramp, after tripping over his own feet, and a runner’s called for a stretcher because they’re down in numbers late in the game.
“Wouldn’t you be filthy? Of course you would be.
“It’s just disappointing, you don’t like in the last three minutes of the game those things affecting the state of play.”
Rule 7.3.2, which governs procedures surrounding the use of stretchers, says play can be stopped if the ball is in dispute and can be restarted by throwing the ball up.
Swans coach John Longmire said Sinclair should be fine and that the incident looked worse than it actually was.
“Initially I think he’s OK. After the game he was actually OK. I’m hoping that its OK,” he said.