Sandilands AFL ban ‘uncomfortable’: Lyon

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is adamant he doesn’t want the third-man up ruck rule scrapped, but says the AFL faces an “uncomfortable” week in the wake of Aaron Sandilands’ one-match ban.

Sandilands was suspended for making head-high contact to Ben Griffiths last week while the Richmond player attempted to go third-man up in a ruck contest.

Although there was no malice in the bump, the 11cm height difference between the pair meant shoulder-to-head contact was hard to avoid.

The Dockers are among the teams who regularly use the third-man up tactic at ruck contests, and Lyon doesn’t want it banned.

But he said it was important for the AFL to come up with a way for ruckmen to protect themselves when they encountered such a scenario.

“We’re disappointed (with the suspension). We felt we had the moral high ground, really,” Lyon said.

“Clearly, we’ve asked the AFL to look into it. There’s some grey areas with third-up in ruck contests.

“If you’re a ruckman, you’d be concerned about third up because it’s your ribs, it’s your back (that’s at risk) and, clearly now, it’s going to get harder to protect yourself.

“I think everyone is a little bit uncomfortable with it.”

The absence of Sandilands for the round-one encounter against the Western Bulldogs has left Jon Griffin, Jack Hannath and Zac Clarke in a three-way battle to fill the lead ruck role.

All three are all in line for selection in Sunday’s pre-season clash with Adelaide at Mount Barker.

Hayden Ballantyne will miss the match because of a major hamstring strain, but he’s on track to appear in the season opener.

Harley Bennell (calf) and Alex Pearce (groin) have returned to full training, with the pair expected to play in the club’s final pre-season match – against Geelong on March 12 at Domain Stadium.

Recruit Darcy Tucker is nursing a knee injury and has been sent off for further assessment.

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