Carlton caretaker coach John Barker says he’s baffled by the inconsistency shown by the match review panel, urging the AFL to give clarity on how sling tackles will be treated for the rest of the season.
Reigning Blues best and fairest winner Bryce Gibbs returns to the club’s line-up against Richmond on Friday, having served a two-week ban for such a tackle on Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray.
But Gray’s teammate Jay Schulz was given the all clear for a similar concussion-inducing effort on Sydney’s Ted Richards this week.
Barker said the club were prepared to wear Gibbs’ two-week lay-off but were left feeling jaded by the decision not to similarly suspend Schulz.
“We were really clear after Gibba was given his suspension as to what the issues are and the foundations are for those sort of tackles,” he said.
“And then when the decision comes on the weekend, look we’ve sought clarification and we’re still confused.
“It would take a better man than me to coach the discrepancies between those two tackles.”
He had to restrain himself when discussing how Gibbs’ was treated, saying he was “really disappointed” for the midfielder.
“He missed two weeks of football on the back of a decision … (it’s) disappointing, might have to leave it at that.”
Barker is one of many to outline his dismay for the seemingly inconsistent ruling, joining legends Leigh Matthews, Kevin Bartlett and Gerard Healy, as well as current day players Jack Ziebell and Dane Swan.
“Clarification is massive in football … we need clarity on what we can and can’t do,” Barker said.
“Player welfare was paramount at one stage, we’re hopeful that’s still the case.”
Gibbs could be joined by six other fit-again Blues for Friday night’s match with Richmond.
Barker said Patrick Cripps (ankle) and Andrejs Everitt (knee) had trained “reasonably well” and would contend after minor injuries from Saturday night’s loss to the Bulldogs.
Andrew Walker (knee), Troy Menzel (knee), Sam Docherty (hamstring) and Andrew Carrazzo (toe) are all in the selection mix.
On Wednesday, chief executive Steven Trigg said the caretaker boss had a “unique and ideal” platform to win the senior coaching job in a long-term capacity but Barker said he was only focused on the here and now.
“I’m enjoying it, it’s a great experience,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do right now and all of that will take care of itself in good time.”