Jason Dunstall says the AFL has “lost the plot” with the holding the ball rule, slamming a “ludicrous” call in Fremantle’s win over North Melbourne on Saturday.
Key forwards Jesse Hogan and Matt Taberner fired as Fremantle kicked their highest score of the AFL season in a 64-point thumping of the Kangaroos.
‘KILL THE GAME’: AFL world fumes over 'awful' spectacle
But it was a “ridiculous” non-call early in the first quarter that stole the AFL world’s attention.
Jared Polec looked certain to be called for holding the ball after having multiple opportunities to dispose of it before going out of bounds on David Mundy’s second attempt to tackle him.
However the call never came, with umpires ruling a ball-in.
Mundy grabbed Polec’s arm and spun him around twice before the Kangaroos star eventually went over the boundary line, leaving commentators gobsmacked.
“That’s got to be holding the ball,” Dwayne Russell said on Fox Footy.
“How many circles can he do? That was a 780. He spun him that much he came out dry. That’s amazing.
“We might have overcorrected when we started, but now we’ve over-overcorrected. Maybe even worse than when we started.”
Dunstall declared the AFL had “lost the handle” on the rule after tinkering with it a number of times throughout the 2020 season.
“How can that possibly be a throw in?” he raged in commentary.
“We’ve lost the handle on the holding the ball rule. There’s no doubt we’re giving players far too long.
“That’s ridiculous. How long can you hold onto a bloke? This is just ludicrous.
“We’ve gone back to where we started.”
Fans also took to social media in shock, with many declaring they didn’t know what constituted holding the ball anymore.
I’ve got absolutely no idea what holding the ball is.— Steven Sullivan (@suldog5) September 12, 2020
Looks like holding the ball isn't a thing anymore.— Shake 'n Bake (@ekab6120) September 12, 2020
For those that cant remember we used to have a rule called holding the ball. It was good once. #AFLGiantsDees— Joey Coy (@Joey1962Packers) September 12, 2020
So holding the ball is officially dead.#AFLGiantsDees— Ashley Symons (@ashley_215) September 12, 2020
Jesse Hogan hits back in Fremantle win
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir hailed Jesse Hogan's impact and forecast a bright AFL future for the key forward after his starring role.
Hogan took a break from football early this year to deal with mental health issues and spent an extended period out of the team with a calf injury.
The setbacks continued a turbulent period on and off the field for the 25-year-old since his high-profile move from Melbourne two years ago, casting doubt over his playing future.
But Hogan has been a solid contributor in three matches on return and kicked four goals from six disposals against the Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium.
It was his biggest single-game haul in Fremantle colours.
“Against Melbourne (last week), I thought he executed his role really well and his defensive pressure set up some goals for his teammates, so that was really positive,” Longmuir said.
“My comment to him during the week was just to stick at it, work both sides of the ball and your opportunities and the goals will come.
“They did today for him, but I think they came for all our forwards today because they're working so well together.”
Hogan combined with fellow talls Taberner (three goals) and Rory Lobb (one) in a performance that Longmuir said reinforced his belief in the mobile key forward, who kicked 40-plus goals in each of his three full seasons at Melbourne.
“Hopefully it gives him confidence that he can still play really well at the level, confidence that he's building his game and layers to his game, and (gives us) confidence that we can play three talls in our front half,” Longmuir said.
Fremantle will not play finals this year but have shown positive signs of development in Longmuir's first year at the helm.
They will be looking to finish off the season in a positive manner when they take on the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.