AFL world turns on Dayne Zorko after alleged sledge comes to light

Harrison Petty, pictured here in tears after Dayne Zorko's sledge.
Harrison Petty was reduced to tears by Dayne Zorko's sledge. Image: Channel 7

AFL great David King has declared Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko “can’t be captain” after his alleged sledge to Melbourne's Harrison Petty came to light.

Zorko apologised to Petty on Saturday for a sledge that left the Melbourne defender in tears at the Gabba, admitting he lost control of his emotions.

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Petty broke down in tears during the three-quarter time break on Friday night, spending some time off the field before returning late in the 58-point win by the Demons over the Lions.

The incident sparked a heated discussion between Melbourne football manager Alan Richardson and his Brisbane counterpart Danny Daly, before Zorko was confronted by several Demons player at full-time.

On Sunday night, Mark Robinson of the Herald Sun reported that Zorko's sledge "was something like this: 'I hope your mother dies'."

“Zorko is a classic case of white line fever. It is said he is a decent bloke off the field, but on it, and as we’ve all seen, he becomes crazily competitive," Robinson wrote, describing the sledge as 'appalling' and saying he believes there is no chance Zorko will be Brisbane captain next year.

Speaking on Sunday night, North Melbourne legend King called on the AFL players' union to take action against Zorko after the AFL reportedly said the issue had been sorted out between the two clubs.

“He can’t be captain doing that stuff. He can’t be captain if he’s a recidivist in this area and getting it wrong,” King said.

“I reckon the players have got to legislate their own, I think this is a Players Association issue. I’m not saying (CEO) Paul Marsh, I’m saying the leadership group there.

“In the off-season they should come together and say, ‘we’ve got look after each other. We’re not going to accept this from Dayne Zorko, if you step outside the code - our own code, to our own people - then we’re going to sanction you, fine you, suspend you, take a greater control of what’s acceptable and what’s not.’ This not the first time.”

St Kilda champion Leigh Montagna said he thinks it is up to Brisbane to come down on Zorko.

“He’s done this in the past, I know there are other teams really disappointed with some of the other stuff he’s said,” Montagna said.

“So I’d like to see Brisbane internally say, ‘Dayne, you’re our leader. You don’t need to go there. You need to lead from the front with your ability to pressure and tackle and win the contested ball and all the things they need to do to win games of footy and not get caught up in that stuff.’

“I’d like to see a stronger leadership group speak to Dayne about it and just take it out of his game.”

Dayne Zorko, pictured here after the Brisbane Lions' loss to Melbourne Demons.
Dayne Zorko looks on after the Brisbane Lions' loss to Melbourne Demons. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) (Chris Hyde via Getty Images)

Dayne Zorko issues apology for sledge

Brisbane released a club statement on Saturday morning in which Zorko admitted he had acted inappropriately.

"I have apologised to Harrison for the inappropriate comment I made to him last night," he said.

"I'm remorseful for my actions and take full responsibility for the hurt caused to Harrison, his family and the Melbourne Football Club.

"In reflection, I understand I need to be a better leader, and have spoken with the club who have reinforced this."

Zorko is no stranger to post-match incidents with opponents after having two run-ins with Gold Coast midfielder Touk Miller in the past.

Miller snubbed the handshake offer extended by the young midfielder after the first Queensland derby in 2019, before then delivering a verbal barrage at the Suns player in the return fixture that year before bizarrely following Miller around the field with his hand extended after a brief post-game handshake.

with AAP

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