West Coast forward Jack Darling has vouched for the character of teammate Chris Masten after the midfielder was caught up in an alleged biting incident during Sunday’s western derby.
The AFL match review panel is scouring television footage after Fremantle’s Nick Suban claimed Masten bit him on the arm while the two engaged in a wrestle in the third quarter.
A distressed Suban could be clearly heard via umpire microphones complaining to field umpire Jeff Dalgleish about Masten.
“He bit me, he f***ing bit me,” says Suban as he shows his arm to Dalgleish.
Masten was not reported by match-day umpires, but an AFL spokesman confirmed on Monday that the allegation had been noted by umpires and referred to the MRP.
If appropriate vision of the incident cannot be found the MRP will then launch an investigation.
Darling said he would never bite anyone on the field, claiming it would be “pretty gross” and “sweaty”.
And he was quick to praise Masten’s leadership qualities when asked about the alleged biting incident.
“As a character, he’s great,” Darling said on Monday.
“He’s really stepped up the last couple of years.
“He’s great to have around the club. Just a funny man. He’s a real team player.”
Masten was caught up in controversy early in his career when he was involved in an Australia Day fight in 2008.
But he has worked hard to rebuild his reputation since that point, and was rewarded earlier this year when he was named stand-in skipper for a pre-season game.
While biting is not a specific offence under the MRP guidelines, it can be classified as misconduct. Darling labelled it a “weird” incident.
Fremantle went on to lose the match by 24 points, with the defeat further compounded when defender Alex Silvagni was reported for striking Jamie Cripps in an off-the-ball incident.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson said after the match that Cripps had suffered a suspected broken jaw after Silvagni appeared to make high contact with his elbow.