AFL commentator Kane Cornes has argued the AFL needs to do more to stop rewarding players from 'flopping' to earn free kicks, after two damning examples on Saturday. The AFL currently has the ability to fine players for staging via the Match Review Officer, but Cornes says umpires should be penalising players on the field for obvious attempts to draw a free kick.
The first of two notables examples in round 11 came in St Kilda's shock loss to Hawthorn, in which key forward Max King earned two 50m penalties in succession. King was given a free kick outside 50 in a marking contest against Hawks defender James Blanck, before earning a 50m penalty when he fell to the ground after Blanck shoved him, dropping to the ground.
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The Hawks gave away another 50m penalty when James Sicily knocked King to the ground again as he rain to the goalsquare - albeit with much more force than what Blanck had used. The second incident to leave Cornes frustrated came when Western Bulldogs forward Cody Weightman was awarded a dubious free kick against Gold Goast's Ben Long.
Weightman's free kick was paid away from the ball, with the Bulldogs gun kicking a goal to reduce their margin against the Suns to just six points. Neither side was ultimately rewarded with a win for their antics, however Cornes said the AFL needed to stamp it out, comparing the problem to that facing the NBA for similar reasons.
“There’s an issue with the game and it is with flopping. We saw Cody Weightman and we also saw another one (King),” Cornes said on the Sunday Footy Show.
“They (the NBA) have got troubles with flopping as well. They’re considering penalising the floppers or those that are staging with a technical free throw in-game – and I think we need to start doing the same.
“I’m sick of this. In a close game that is a 50m penalty and a guaranteed goal. Max King, I’m not critical of him, because the umpires are giving him a free kick for it. But we’ve got to stamp it out.
“That should be a free kick against King and that should go to Hawthorn, rather than rewarding that sort of action.
“It frustrates fans, it frustrates everyone. We’ve got to get it out of the game. It’s easy to do it, just penalise them, pay a free kick against and players will stop doing it.”
"We've got to get it out of the game."@kanecornes says it's time the AFL stamped flopping out of the game by paying free kicks against players for staging.#9AFLSFS | @Channel9 pic.twitter.com/eNqxylQODz
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) May 28, 2023
AFL great calls for greater penalties for players 'flopping'
The former Port Adelaide premiership player found support in fellow panellist Damien Barrett. The veteran journalist said King's double penalty was a moment the St Kilda star 'wouldn't be proud of' outside the heat of the moment.
Cornes added that, in King's case, the initial free kick should have been reversed after King obviouisly took a dive on Blanck's initial push - particularly since it was King who initially shoved the Hawks defender. He eflt similarly about Weightman's off-the-ball free kick, which came at a crucial moment against the Suns.
Cody Weightman is such a talent. So capable of great things. He has to get this out of his game. Just milks too many free kicks. Four tonight. Totally invented this contact. Nearly turned the game. So glad it didn’t cost the Suns the game. pic.twitter.com/PJF6y8FSSE
— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) May 27, 2023
“I think you blow the whistle and pay a free kick against, instead of rewarding him with a free kick. Luckily Gold Coast still won that game, but it frustrates everyone," he said.
“Fine for him (King), fine for Weightman. But further than that, it should be a free kick against.”
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