AFL tipped to crack down on van Rooyen-style contact

Shayne Hope |

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has tipped high contact like that which led to the Jacob van Rooyen ‘striking’ saga will be outlawed by the AFL within a few years.

Van Rooyen had his named cleared at the league’s appeals board last week after he was initially hit with a two-match suspension.

His striking charge stemmed from a mistimed spoiling attempt that caught Charlie Ballard high and left the Gold Coast defender nursing a sore neck.

Last week, Goodwin said the match review officer’s assessment challenged the “fabric of the game” and felt Melbourne had to contest the charge, in part for clarification over the league’s rules.

The Demons premiership coach now expects similar contact to be taken out of the game entirely in the not too distant future.

His prediction follows a crackdown on dangerous tackles amid a huge focus on the effects of concussion in world sport.

“I’m a big advocate of protecting the head,” Goodwin told Fox Footy.

“But as we go through this journey – we’ve already started and we’re a long way down the path on the tackle – I think we’ll get more clarity on how you contest the ball in the air as well.

“There’s no doubt the game will look different in a few years’ time.”

Port Adelaide counterpart Ken Hinkley agreed, declaring he was “slightly surprised” the Demons managed to get van Rooyen’s ban overturned.

“The reality is the game is played differently today than it was two, years, five years, 10 years ago,” Hinkley said.

“I think there will be continual adjustments to the game and any hits to the head will be viewed pretty poorly.”

Van Rooyen was under an intense spotlight for several days as he fronted the tribunal and then took his case to the appeals board.

Goodwin lauded the 20-year-old’s ability to handle the pressure.

“It was a big week for us as a club and a big week for obviously Jacob to go through,” Goodwin said.

“I said at the time that it was about building clarity for the game as much as anything – about what reasonable contact would look like when attempting to contest the ball.

“We felt all the time that Jacob’s sole objective was to contest the ball and in the end that’s what was seen to be fit.”