Former AFL player Ryan Bastinac has lashed out at local footy 'cowards' after he was headbutted during a game last weekend.
Bastinac, who played 164 games and kicked 93 goals for North Melbourne and Brisbane from 2010 to 2019, was playing for Pearcedale in the Mornington Peninsula league in Victoria when he was assaulted on the field.
'THAT'S NOT RIGHT': AFL world erupts over umpiring 'disgrace'
'WHAT THE HELL': AFL world erupts over star's 'disgusting' act
In a post on Twitter, the former Kangaroos star said he and the opponent who head-butted him had been involved in some argy-barty before he struck.
The 30-year-old slammed his assailant on social media, labelling what had happened an 'assault' and decrying 'cowards' who take to the footy field looking for a fight.
Bastinac needed a trip to hospital and six stitches in his head after the incident.
"Coward hits in local footy are not on in this day and age," he wrote.
"The footy field isn't free reign to go out and assault people.
"Put some gloves on and try yourself the right way if that's what you want to do. But that never happens.
"People shouldn't play the game they love and enjoy and have to worry that they are going to get assaulted.
"Footy is a tough, hard and fair game but we need to do more to protect all the players who are playing the right way, the hard and fair way, and stamp out these cowards because there is no place for it."
Kangaroos fans offered their support to Bastinac in the replies to his post.
According to the Herald Sun, a free kick was given at the time but no report was made, with Bastinac saying the incident would dissuade former AFL players from playing locals leagues after their careers at the highest level ends.
Former Kangaroos star Ryan Bastinac lashes out at local footy thugs
Bastinac said he was used to copping extra-curriculars while playing local footy as an ex-AFL player, but what had happened last weekend went beyond the pale.
He said the rival player who headbutted him had moments earlier attempted to elbow him.
“This bloke tried to elbow me and missed me there and then I gave him a shove in the back and he turned around and we grabbed each other’s jumpers and had a good little tussle, which is fine," he said.
“Then he just went the massive headbutt and they are the things that I am not going to put up with at local level. It’s just a coward act and you can’t have people getting away with stuff like that.”
The incident with Bastinac comes days as Western Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith was handed a two-match ban for his heabutt on Geelong's Zac Tuohy.
Smith was reported immediately after a three-quarter time scuffle with Tuohy during Friday night's pulsating Geelong win at Marvel Stadium.
"I'm disappointed to be missing the next two matches, and regret that I won't be able to help my teammates on the field during that period," Smith said in a club statement.
"I understand what happened was outside of what's expected of AFL players. Unfortunately, I let my emotions get the better of me, which is out of character for me.
"I am determined to come back in a couple of weeks to continue giving 100 per cent for my teammates and the club."
Match review officer Michael Christian upheld the report as intentional, with medium impact and high contact.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.