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AFL to deliver a whack to jumper-punchers

Football

The AFL will immediately act to crack down on the jumper punch, rather than wait until the season’s end.

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A day after league boss Gillon McLachlan said any type of punch had no place in the game, football operations manager Simon Lethlean revealed the AFL would change tribunal rules mid-season.

“It’s unusual, but we’re going to (change the rules). We don’t want punching to continue,” Lethlean told SEN radio today.

“We’re unequivocal about that.”

The move has been sparked by a series of jumper punches during Sunday’s North Melbourne-Melbourne clash, while Richmond captain Trent Cotchin escaped with a fine last week for a jumper punch incident.

McLachlan admitted yesterday Cotchin could be considered lucky to not be punished more harshly.

Lethlean indicated suspensions could soon be on the table, saying amendments would be worked out in the next few days.

“I think a change is required. Clearly, the deterrent of fines is not stopping on-field punching in various forms,” Lethlean said.

“That’s up to me now to give the MRP (match review panel) the equipment by which to be able to classify for either more forceful contact or for more intent.

“We’ll make that really clear to the players and clubs and make a change that’s enforceable and gives the MRP the right equipment in their classifications to ensure that sanctions are now matches (suspension), as compared to fines, if that’s going to be the deterrent required.”

Melbourne defender Christian Salem will miss Saturday’s AFL clash with Gold Coast in Alice Springs after accepting a one-game suspension for striking North Melbourne’s Shaun Higgins during Sunday’s spiteful encounter. Salem risked missing two games if he made an unsuccessful challenge.

-AAP

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