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Shuey's 'no comment' on contentious free kick

Football

West Coast elimination final hero Luke Shuey has branded the debate over his contentious last-minute free kick against Port Adelaide as irrelevant.

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With his side trailing by four points with less than 30 seconds remaining in extra time after a nailbiting draw at Adelaide Oval, Shuey was paid a free kick for high contact then kicked a goal after the siren to secure a stunning AFL elimination final win over the Power.

The decision, made by umpire Chris Donlon, has been hotly debated since.

Port’s Jared Polec was adjudged to have infringed when his right arm slipped up around Shuey’s neck after initially starting around his bicep area.

A change in interpretation of the high contact rule made by the AFL before the season states a player shouldn’t be paid a free if he shrugs, drops his knees, ducks or lifts his arm to bring on the high contact.

The AFL gave the decision its seal of approval yesterday and Power coach Ken Hinkley thought it was there – but many disagree.

Asked for his thoughts on the subject, Shuey declined to get involved.

“It’s not for me to comment on… I don’t need to give an opinion,” Shuey told reporters yesterday afternoon.

“It’s irrelevant to us now, we move on and focus on next week.”

The 27-year-old displayed nerves of steel to slot the winner from 40m on a 45-degree angle to send his team into a semi-final against Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on Saturday night.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson said there was no one he would rather have lined up for goal in that situation than Shuey.

“My head was pretty clear,” Shuey said.

“I obviously knew the situation but I’ve watched on over the last few years and seen guys have shots after the siren and always wondered what it would be like.

“I had a think about the whole situation, to be honest, going to overtime and having to kick after the siren.

“I couldn’t help but laugh and have a little smile about the situation.

“I guess I was trying to relax myself a little bit.”

There was plenty of spite during – and after – the game, with West Coast veteran Sam Mitchell yesterday strongly denying he spat in the direction of Port’s Sam Gray late in the third quarter.

Vision has emerged of spittle travelling from Mitchell’s mouth towards the direction of a face-down Gray. The Power player had just been awarded a free kick, and Mitchell was standing above him when the incident happened.

Mitchell hunched over, and shortly after a formed piece of saliva dribbled from his mouth onto the turf – only narrowly missing Gray.

Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes described Mitchell’s actions as “ordinary”.

Former Western Bulldogs and Richmond forward Nathan Brown said Mitchell could have copped a suspension if the saliva had made contact with Gray.

West Coast released a statement last night about the allegations.

“The West Coast Eagles and midfielder Sam Mitchell are extremely disappointed about media reports suggesting that the decorated veteran spat at or in the direction of Port Adelaide forward Sam Gray in the elimination final on Saturday night,” the statement read.

“Both the club and Sam strongly refute any such suggestion or allegation.”

Mitchell has played a key role for the Eagles since crossing from Hawthorn at the end of last year.

The 34-year-old has already announced he’ll retire at season’s end, and he looms as a key figure in the semi-final clash with GWS.

Influential Giants ruckman Shane Mumford, meanwhile, faces an uphill battle to play.

The Giants’ 36-point qualifying final loss to Adelaide exacted a heavy toll on their line-up with Mumford (ankle), Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and Stephen Coniglio (ankle/knee) all struggling.

Cameron will battle to feature again this season after leaving the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter.

Coniglio has managed an ankle injury for the past few weeks and should play, but Mumford is in doubt after he was spotted at Adelaide Airport on crutches.

“Shane’s obviously carrying an ankle and he’s battling to get up at times,” coach Leon Cameron told reporters.

“He just keeps finding a way.

“He’s a determined player and he’ll be looking forward to playing next week.”

In better news for GWS, veteran Ryan Griffen played in a reserves scratch match in Adelaide on Friday morning and could be a selection wildcard.

“It’s a really big decision… he’s obviously been a super player for us but that’s a long time out,” Cameron said of Griffen, who hasn’t played since round three.

“But you never say never. It’s just great seeing him back out there.”

-AAP

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