Patrick Dangerfield has lashed out at "dickheads" who bait AFL players in the wake of Richmond's nightclub fight controversy.
The President of the AFL Players Association leapt to the defence of Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli on Wednesday after the Tigers stars were involved in a nightclub fight on the weekend.
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Bolton fractured his wrist and will miss up to three weeks when he stepped in to help premiership teammate Rioli, who was punched in the face and sustained a cut under his eye.
Richmond believe Rioli's girlfriend Paris Lawrence was "subjected to inappropriate behaviour" before the forward was punched.
On Wednesday, injured Geelong superstar Dangerfield said players deserved to be able to enjoy themselves without being harassed.
"The challenges are, especially when you go out and you let your hair down after a stressful week, you're dealing with d***heads that pull out their phones at a nightclub and are just trying to film something on social media," Dangerfield told SEN.
"They're looking for a reaction. You're on a highway to nothing as a player.
"We've got to treat our players like adults and they've got to be able to enjoy themselves but you do deal with members of the general public that are out there for nothing but trouble.
"I really sympathise with the boys because they're in a really difficult situation where something inappropriate happens to a partner, and maybe with wiser heads you might react differently but that's easy to say from the grandstand.
"It's a different thing in the heat of the moment where you're like 'this is crap, this is inappropriate, I'm not dealing with this'."
Damien Hardwick defends Richmond players
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick defended both players on Monday night and said he believed many people would have reacted the same way.
"A player's partner was put in an inappropriate situation that she didn't feel comfortable with and Daniel stood up and tried to eradicate the situation and was punched in the eye," Hardwick told Fox Footy.
"I don't condone violence but the reality is, you put anyone in that situation, they're going to stand up for their partner and their mates and Shai was the same.
"So, look, it was a difficult situation. It's not one ideally we want to be in but the reality is we are where we are."
Chief executive Brendon Gale said it was a disappointing situation the pair found themselves in and preferred the club not to be having to deal with it.
"At the end of the day, Daniel and Shai responded to what they deemed to be inappropriate conduct," Gale added.
"Gee it would be a whole lot easier if Shai and Daniel sat home on the couch every night, but that's not the way you expect to live.
"From time to time they're going to make mistakes."
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