‘It’s a footy action’: Anxious wait for Butler over Blakey ‘dangerous tackle’

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St Kilda forward Dan Butler will come under scrutiny by the match review officer for a potentially dangerous tackle on Nick Blakey in Friday night’s 14-point win over the Sydney Swans at the SCG.

Blakey, the dashing half-back, was forced to leave the field early in the third term and was subbed out of the game, but he passed a concussion test. The Swans later said the reason why he did not return was because of a toe injury.

Cause for concern: While Swan Nick Blakey avoided concussion in this tackle, Saint Dan Butler still faces scrutiny from the match review officer.Credit: Getty Images

Blakey was chased down from behind by Butler and appeared to execute a legal tackle which had the Swan holding the ball, but Blakey’s head then made heavy contact with the turf. Blakey was awarded a free kick for a dangerous tackle.

Swans coach John Longmire said Blakey had taken a toe issue into the game, and this had bothered him through the night.

“No, he passed his HIA [head injury assessment], he was fine in the end. It was going to take 15 minutes by the time he was assessed and allowed back on the ground, which was pretty critical at that point,” Longmire said.

“He had a toe injury coming into the game, and we had to get moving. It was a pretty important part of the game, 15 minutes is a good slab of time, with his toe being sore we made a change. It was only last week that he hurt it, and he came into the game a bit sore. Hopefully, he will be OK next week.”

Swans great Jude Bolton, in commentary for Seven, said Butler did not deserve to be suspended.

“I still think it’s a footy action. It’s one of the toughest tackles to execute when you’re running from behind and I think he’s actually guided him down,” Bolton said.

“There’s going to be accidents in football. I don’t think it’s cut and dry like that.”

Match review officer Michael Christian will release his findings on Friday evening.

Amid increasing legal claims over historic concussion cases, the AFL has intensified its crackdown on head-high contact this season, whether that be from unnecessary bumps, or dangerous tackles.

Butler was also supported by AFL great and former hardman Dermott Brereton.

“I don’t agree with it [Butler being potentially banned] because I reckon the momentum of coming forward [played a part] and I don’t think he really assisted in the momentum,” Brereton told SEN.

“He went hard at it, but the drive with the same direction [of force] contributed. Blakey was running away from him, he chases him down from behind, he takes him down to the ground.

“So they’re both moving in one direction and with that accelerated motion they come together, they combine together with that, and he goes to ground, he pins him, and they go to ground. There’s no sling, there’s no aggressive, ‘I want to hurt you take down’ – it was a tackling action. I can see how he could get sanctioned on it, but I don’t agree with it.”

Saints coach Ross Lyon said he was not worried about the tackle.

“I didn’t assess it. Everyone has come to me on it [but] we’re unwavering in the process in and outside the club so that can go through the channels and they [the MRO] can make an assessment,” Lyon said.

“Clearly that part of the game is challenging for everyone. I haven’t had a look at it, I was looking at Warner exploding out of stoppages.

“It’s a delicate [issue], isn’t it? I’ve got a daughter that got knocked out playing netball with a clash of heads.

“She’s out for three weeks, and I’m a bit ‘get moving’. I’m a bit flippant with it, but I think to be cautious and go through the protocols is the right thing.”

Blakey, 23, this week signed a seven-year contract.

The Saints’ eighth win of the season, this coming off a bye, spoiled the celebration the Swans wanted to have for Lance Franklin, in his 350th game.

Franklin booted two goals, but the Swans squandered a six-point buffer at the final change. Max King continued his strong return from injury, the emerging Saints’ star booting 3.2.

“It is always difficult out of the bye and I always stress a bit trying to get your prep right. Hawthorn were very good [leading into the bye], and we weren’t at our best. Two out of three we played a style and delivered performances we weren’t thrilled with,” Lyon said.

“We sent them away for six days, we didn’t change what we had planned, we came back and delivered a sharp but brief review. The truth sets you free right? We processed it and had a really good week on the track. Opportunity to come away together as a pack and join in together and be together.

“The ladder is important in the end, but it is an outcome of getting your process right and playing good footy. We always like to win, but ultimately you can’t just define yourself by four points, as important as they are.”

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