AFL world erupts over 'sickening' controversy: 'Can't believe it'

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Tom Jonas and Zak Butters, pictured here after clashing heads during Port Adelaide's loss to Richmond.
Tom Jonas and Zak Butters clashed heads during Port Adelaide's loss to Richmond. Image: Getty

Controversy has erupted in the AFL after Port Adelaide pair Tom Jonas and Zak Butters were allowed to return to the field against Richmond on Thursday night after a sickening head clash.

Port Adelaide's management of the two players immediately after they left the ground at the MCG is certain to come under scrutiny from the AFL.

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Both players were contesting a ball on the wing in the final quarter against Richmond, colliding head-first after trying to tackle the same player.

Jones and Butters were both prone on the ground for a few seconds before getting back to their feet and receiving assistance from trainers, with Butters sporting a nasty gash near on his face.

Both players were taken from the field and bandaged up, however there was uproar when they returned soon after.

The incident came at a crucial stage in the game with Port trailing by just two points.

According to reports, the players weren't given concussion tests.

Peter Brown of News Corp tweeted: “The fact two players have come back on the field after a brutal head clash is the story of the AFL season. This is bigger than the result tonight.

“I simply can’t believe the AFL has allowed two players who were involved in a sickening head clash to come back on the field. I am dumbstruck. I thought we’d moved past that.”

Zak Butters, pictured here during Port Adelaide's clash with Richmond.
Zak Butters looks on during Port Adelaide's clash with Richmond. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Lauren Wood of the Herald Sun wrote: “Worth noting that AFL concussion guidelines are around testing players that exhibit concussion symptoms or signs – as opposed to just viewing the incident.

"Should it be both? I would argue yes. You can rehab a hamstring – not a brain.”

Lachlan McKirdy from CODE sports added: "In the space of 24 hours, we've had two examples of Australian sports not taking concussion seriously enough.

"Firstly Isaah Yeo in Origin and now Jonas and Butters. Really disappointing. Surely they had to be tested at least."

Port Adelaide coach defends concussion protocols

Speaking after the game, which Richmond won by 12 points, Port coach Ken Hinkley was adamant Jonas and Butters had no concussion issues.

Hinkley defended veteran club doctor Mark Fisher, bristling at post-match questions about how Port handled the situation.

"They both got bashed up ... (but) they weren't laying down and they weren't fainting, they weren't doing anything silly, they were talking to me very clearly - 'aw mate, I'm going to have a big black eye, but I'm pretty good'," Hinkley said.

"They're tough players, too ... that's a hit, for those who don't think the game's tough."

Hinkley made it clear he has full faith in Fisher and team football manager Chris Davies, who were on the bench as the two bloodied players left the field.

Tom Jonas and Zak Butters, pictured here after colliding during Port Adelaide's loss to Richmond.
Tom Jonas and Zak Butters collided in sickening scenes during Port Adelaide's loss to Richmond. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"I have a doctor who's been with our footy club for 25 years and the conversation between our doctor and our football manager (Chris Davies) ... was these boys, they have no issue with concussion," Hinkley said.

"So if anyone has a challenge on that, and they feel more qualified than Mark Fisher ... feel free.

"But I think you need to be really, really sure that you're not trying to umpire or make some calls from outside the fence when you have no knowledge."

Hinkley bristled when asked if there would have been further assessment had the collision happened earlier in the game.

"Do you think a doctor of 25 years would take a risk with concussion, with the seriousness of the injuries that go on now with concussion?" he said.

"Do you want him to go back to medical school?"

with AAP

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