Webster faces big ban, ‘please explain’ for Clarkson

Anna Harrington, Oliver Caffrey and Shayne Hope |

Melbourne’s coaches have been drilling in the dangers of bumping as the AFL clamps down.
Melbourne’s coaches have been drilling in the dangers of bumping as the AFL clamps down.

Jimmy Webster will await a heavy ban from the AFL Tribunal for his bump on North Melbourne’s Jy Simpkin, as Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson received a “please explain” for “inappropriate” comments towards the St Kilda defender and a teammate.

Webster has been sent directly to the tribunal for his high, late bump that landed Kangaroos midfielder and co-captain Simpkin in concussion protocols.

AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon was unwilling to put a number on the length of suspension Webster should face, but indicated a heavy ban was headed the Saint’s way.

Webster’s bump was classed by the match review officer as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact, meaning he could not plead guilty.

“As I looked at it – and St Kilda have been already on the record today as saying that – this is an action that we don’t need in our game and we don’t want it in our game,” Dillon told Fox Sports’ AFL 360. 

“So it was really clear to me it was going to be going straight to the tribunal, and the MRO looked at it today and that’s where they’ve sent it.”

Kangaroos coach Clarkson was furious about the incident and reportedly used the word “c*******er” during an exchange of words with Webster and fellow Saints defender Dougal Howard at the quarter-time interval of Sunday’s practice game.

The AFL is set to investigate the exchange between Clarkson, Webster and Howard and the alleged homophobic slur used.

“Well, first of all, I think senior coaches or officials approaching players at breaks in play isn’t something that we want to see anyway,” Dillon said.

“When you overlay what’s been reported, it’s language that Alastair has already come out and said it’s inappropriate, it’s something I don’t like, and we don’t need it in our game.”

Clarkson will be given the opportunity to explain himself before the AFL considers a sanction.

He made a point of apologising for his comments on Monday afternoon, saying the incident left him “deeply disturbed”.

Jy Simpkin (left) on the bench at North Melbourne vs St Kilda.
North Melbourne’s Jy Simpkin (left) was consigned to the bench after being bumped against St Kilda. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“Jy has had a great pre-season and has now had three concussions in 12 months, and I was so disappointed to see him leave the field in that way,” Clarkson said.

“At the quarter-time break I voiced my displeasure to St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard as they made their way to the quarter-time huddle.

“This was an exchange that was emotional in defence of our captain, but unnecessary, and the language I used was inappropriate.

“I have reached out to (Saints coach) Ross Lyon and both the St Kilda players to apologise.”

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson.
Kangaroos head coach Alastair Clarkson has apologised to St Kilda over his quarter-time outburst. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Webster and Saints football boss David Misson on Monday both issued statements about the incident.

“I deeply regret my actions in (Sunday’s) game,” Webster said.

“I’ve reached out to Jy and cannot understate my remorse.

“My thoughts are with Jy and his family, and I hope he has a speedy and successful recovery.”

Misson labelled the incident “out of character” for Webster, “who has proven to be a fair and honest player”.

Saints coach Lyon conceded there was “no defence” for Webster’s actions.

“It’s just a very difficult situation. Really concerned for both lads, in particular Jy, because it was very heavy physical contact,” Lyon told reporters on Monday.

“Clearly there’s no defence to it. We always support the person (to) change the behaviour.

“We’ve got to continue to evolve the game, but we’re devastated for both boys involved and there’s not much, obviously, I can do about it.

“If we could change things we would, but we can’t.”

The Webster-Simpkin incident sparked a melee, and North Melbourne’s Tristan Xerri and Bailey Scott and St Kilda recruit Liam Henry have been offered fines of $1250 for their involvement.

Saints ruckman Rowan Marshall can accept a fine of  $1875 for his second offence of engaging in a melee/wrestle.

The incident happened four days after Port Adelaide forward Sam Powell-Pepper received a four-game suspension for a bump that concussed Adelaide defender Mark Keane.