AFL backs Fyfe ban

Nat Fyfe would still have been suspended for the round-two head clash with Gold Coast's Michael Rischitelli, even given the changing landscape on head-high contact, AFL football operations manager Mark Evans said yesterday.

Evans, in Fremantle to announce Ross Lyon as Alastair Clarkson's assistant coach for the one-off International Rules Test against Ireland in Perth on November 22, also indicated he didn't foresee any change in Brownlow Medal eligibility in the wake of the Fyfe case "at this point in time".

The fierce debate on the bump's role in the game was sparked again when Melbourne's Jack Viney was cleared on appeal of breaking Adelaide forward Tom Lynch's jaw in round seven.

Evans also said:

·He was hopeful an elite team with only current or former All-Australians eligible to be picked for the International Rules series would seriously reinvigorate the hybrid game. Luke Hodge, Joel Selwood, Scott Pendlebury and Patrick Dangerfield have already indicated their support.

·The AFL may take the series to the United States in the next two years with a two-Test series to be played in New York's Central Park and Boston.

·Perth had been chosen as an International Rules series venue because of the city's strong support for previous matches.

Evans said Fremantle would get the same result if Fyfe's head clash with Rischitelli happened now.

"If you elect to bump then you have taken the responsibility to do that without making contact to your opponent's head. If you choose to bump instead of tackling or smothering then you have to wear the responsibility of that - as tough as that seems at times," he said. "On this occasion I still think there was an election to bump. This is the result of a head clash but the initial decision was to bump, not to tackle or to smother."

Evans said Lyon and Clarkson as coaches, plus Port Adelaide's Darren Burgess as a fitness coach, Gerard Healy as chairman of selectors and Eddie McGuire as chef de mission helped give credibility to the team for the International Rules series.

"We have tried to prove to the players that we will put the very best people in control of this team. That is very significant to prove to everybody that this will be the very best of the very best in the league," he said.

"There is quite some possibility that we might take a series to the United States in the next year or two … and really create some excitement."

Lyon said it was an easy decision to be involved.

"Particularly Alastair as a dual premiership coach, to get the opportunity to work with him and be in an elite environment, and the fact that it was a one-off Test in Perth where the support for the Australian team historically has had crowds upwards of 40,000," he said.

"If you elect to bump then you have taken the responsibility …""AFL football operations manager *Mark Evans *


The West Australian

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