The Cats reluctantly accepted Hawkins’ one-match suspension for striking Crouch in a heated incident that occurred just before halftime of Friday night’s match at Simonds Stadium, which the Cats won by 22 points.
But Match Review Panellist Jimmy Bartel, a retired Cats great and premiership teammate of Hawkins, said the big forward put himself in the position to be suspended having collected Crouch high.
“People need someone to blame and every Monday afternoon, they blame the MRP and they get their frustration out,” Bartel told RSN radio today.
“You could maybe blame your players for putting themselves up in front of the MRP.
“He (Hawkins) just needs to get it out of his game. He’s such a valuable part of the Geelong side.
“But in the situation (the MRP reviewed) yesterday, he pretty much asserted himself on the Crouch boy… but he got him high.”
Hawkins’ timing could not have been worse.
His punch came less than a fortnight after the AFL flagged its intention to crack down on jumper punching after Richmond skipper Trent Cotchin controversially escaped with a fine for his blow to Docker Lachie Neale’s face.
In round 11, Sydney’s Zak Jones was also fined rather than banned for a punch to the upper body of Hawthorn’s Luke Breust.
Geelong coach Chris Scott has warned the ban will most likely blow up in the AFL’s face.
“I should say really clearly that it was a silly thing to do,” Scott told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“I’m not defending the action at all but I will say on the record that I suspect it will go 180 (degrees)… I think the AFL, by their own admission, are saying that they’re not comfortable with some of the things that have happened over the previous few weeks and want the MRP to change, which they have.
“(But) if we get to a prelim final and that (kind of action) gets a week, there will be uproar and I will be in that camp.
“I think it was a really smart thing a couple of years ago for the AFL to say that they don’t want players missing (games) for silly things.
“I understand that things get a bit out of control and they need to pull them back a little bit but if you keep chopping and changing like this… I almost guarantee that in three months we’ll be in this position.”
The Hawkins-Crouch incident happened metres from a watching umpire – who did not pay a free kick.
Scott lashed out at the apparent division between the game’s on and off-field officials.
“We’ve got umpires who clearly have a different view to the MRP,” he said.
“In the moment (umpires) can miss things live but we’ve seen countless examples where the umpire is five to 10 metres away with a perfect view saying ‘That’s not even a free kick’.
“Then the MRP come out a couple of days later and say ‘It should have been a free kick and it’s more than a fine, we’re going to give you a week’.
“I think it speaks to how grey these areas are that you can have prominent groups in the game… the umpires and the MRP just clearly disagreeing on this.”
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