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Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury has hit out at the way teammate Jack Ginnivan has been umpired this season, telling Triple M it was 'bizarre' to see the interpretation of high tackling rules for the 19-year-old.
The long-running AFL debate over players ducking or shrugging tackles in order to draw a free kick for high contact has once again come to the fore, with Ginnivan unintentionally finding himself at the centre of the furore.
The AFL issued an edict earlier in the season in which umpires had been instructed to avoid penalising the tackling player when the ball carrier attempts to draw high contact by lowring their body.
The resulting furore has impacted Ginnivan, who admitted his mental health had taken a hit from being the subject of intense scrutiny from media and fans.
Pendlebury said it was harsh that Ginnivan had become the poster boy for the issue, arguing that his young teammate was far from the only player in the competition guilty of trying to earn a freek kick that way.
“It’s a bizarre situation playing, because as much as you don’t want to shine a light on it, it does feel for some reason every time he gets the ball it’s a different set of rules,” he said.
“It shouldn’t feel like that, and I don’t know if they're officiating the correct way with him and then they’re still a little bit behind with other players.
“I’ll give you the hot tip, he’s certainly not the only guy in the AFL that knows how to shrug a tackle. I think because he’s been made the example of, everyone’s hot on him and not so hot on other players.”
The AFL last week conceded Ginnivan should have been awarded a free kick for a high tackle from Essendon's Mason Redman, which was not paid.
Ginnivan kicked three crucial goals in the six-point win over the Power, which kept Collingwood in the top four.
He has kicked 32 goals from 17 games in a breakout second season with the Magpies.
Collingwood's Jack Ginnivan exhausted by AFL criticism
After months of criticism and discussions centred around his game, Ginnivan admitted after last weekend's victory over Port Adelaide that the coverage had taken a toll.
"It's definitely taken a toll on my mental health and all that stuff, but I'm here, happy, smiling," Ginnivan said in a raw post-match interview with Fox Footy.
"When you're kicking goals and winning it's beautiful, so can't complain.
"I've got some strong leaders around me, Darcy Moore, Callum Brown is one of my best mates, he's looking after me.
"My mum, my family are so amazing, they're up here every week, so I can't complain.
"Fly (coach Craig McRae), he's a beautiful human, I love him to bits and he's looking after me day by day."
Ginnivan has found an ally in Melbourne captain Max Gawn ahead of the two sides' blockbuster AFL clash on Friday night.
Gawn hopes Melbourne can put the brakes on Ginnivan when the second-placed Demons take on Collingwood, who sit third, but has empathy for the talented young forward.
Speaking at the launch of Melbourne's annual 'Round for Reach', Gawn also drew attention to the level of scrutiny faced by out-of-contract teammate Luke Jackson and Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers.
Chalmers, who is competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, feels victimised and almost quit swimming because of a media smear campaign based around his relationships with teammates Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson.
"It is tough being in the spotlight," Gawn said.
"I mean, (another example is) Kyle Chalmers in the Commonwealth Games with his press conference.
"Media can take down someone like the best of them and Ginnivan's right in the spotlight at the moment, so I do empathise with him.
"If any of our guys are in that same situation, like Luke (Jackson) is at the moment, the press that Luke had over in Perth (last week) was crazy.
"I've never seen anything like it, there was photographers following him around, so these young guys do struggle.
"That's another great time to 'reach' and make sure you're there and supporting these young guys to get through these tough situations."
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