The bump is dead, and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon couldn’t be happier.
Under the AFL’s latest crackdown on head-high hits, players who opt to bump instead of tackle are now held responsible for any contact to the head.
Star Dockers midfielder Nat Fyfe copped a two-week ban a fortnight ago when his shoulder-to-shoulder bump on Gold Coast’s Michael Rischitelli resulted in a head clash.
Although some AFL greats such as Mark Ricciuto are mourning the death of the bump, Lyon feels it’s a move in the right direction, saying the practise was “barbaric” at times during his own playing days.
Lyon says he would now prefer his players not to bump when possible.
“We’re trying to avoid significant injuries and concussions, because it’s a serious issue. So therefore, I’m really supportive of the changes,” said Lyon, who played for Fitzroy and Brisbane during the 1980s and ’90s.
“I think (when) the laws were that loose, it was quite brutal and quite dangerous. I’ll be happy for my son to play the game (now).
“The head is sacrosanct – we all get that.
“We understand there are some grey areas. If you choose to bump, you want to have a really good technique, because as soon as you hit them high you’re in trouble.
“I think the bump’s dead. Unless you hit it perfectly below the shoulders, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”
Fyfe is free to return for Saturday’s clash with Sydney at the SCG, with the 22-year-old shaking off some recent leg niggles to take part in training on Thursday.
But goalsneak Michael Walters is set to miss the rest of the season due to a serious ankle injury.
Walters was due to undergo surgery to repair tendon damage in his left ankle on Thursday, with Lyon saying the 23-year-old was only a slim chance to return at the tail end of the season.
Walters kicked a team-high 46 goals last year and Lyon said the onus was on the rest of the team to contribute regularly to the score sheet to fill the void.
“It’s about sharing the load, and at the end of the day we’ve got plenty of young guys around that are looking for opportunities, of which Hayden (Crozier) is one of them,” Lyon said.