Alastair Clarkson admits to 'inappropriate' reaction to Jimmy Webster AFL storm

The controversial incident has left St Kilda's Jimmy Webster facing a big ban.

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson admits he overreacted to St Kilda star Jimmy Webster's controversial bump on Jy Simpkin that floored the Kangaroos co-captain on Sunday. Webster's hit on Simpkin is expected to see him referred straight to the AFL tribunal and will almost certainly result in a suspension for the Saints star.

Webster knocked out Simpkin after leaping off the ground and collecting him in the head with the full force of his body in the first quarter of the AFL practice match in Moorabbin. Simpkin, who has a history of concussion-related issues, took no further part in the match and is expected to miss round one.

Pictured right is North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson and Jimmy Webster's bump on Jy Simpkin on left.
North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was fuming after Jimmy Webster's bump on his player, Jy Simpkin in an AFL practice match. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty

The incident comes a week after Port Adelaide's Sam Powell-Pepper was handed a four-week ban for his 'reckless' high shot on Adelaide's Mark Keane and the AFL has warned players about their duty of care to opposition players. The league has brought in tougher new sanctions on contact with the head in an attempt to minimise concussions.

With the issue of head knocks prominent in the game right now and considering Simpkin's history of concussions, it's little wonder the Webster incident has sparked uproar around the sport. It also prompted a fiery exchange from Clarkson at quarter-time, with the Kangaroos coach admitting that his tirade at Webster and Saints teammate Dougal Howard was "unnecessary" and "inappropriate".

AFL journalist Tom Morris reported that Clarkson swore at Webster and suggested he'd be spending a long time on the sidelines. Clarkson has been accused of using the term "c***sucker" in his foul-mouthed spray, with the North Melbourne coach confirming that he reached out to St Kilda to offer an apology to coach Ross Lyon and both players.

Alastair Clarkson sorry for 'inappropriate' outburst

“I was deeply disturbed seeing our captain Jy Simpkin forced from the field as a result of a heavy collision just before quarter time,” Clarkson told 9News. “Jy has had a great pre-season and has now had three concussions in 12 months and I was so disappointed to see him leave the field in that way.

“At the quarter-time break, I voiced my displeasure to St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard as they made their way to the quarter time huddle. This was an exchange that was emotional in defence of our captain, but unnecessary and the language I used was inappropriate. I have reached out to Ross Lyon and both the St Kilda players to apologise."


St Kilda's coach has admitted that Webster will "pay a price" for the bump on Simpkin after revealing he'd spoken with his "remorseful" star about the incident on Monday. "I was just checking in. He obviously didn’t sleep, he was upset, he is remorseful," Lyon said.

"Obviously I’m there to support Jimmy under pressure, that’s my role, and I want to, because he has been a great servant of the club, hasn’t missed a beat all pre-season and from my end, it was really out of character. "I thought (Saints assistant coach) Corey Enright summed it up really well, in that it was a split-second decision. He wouldn’t have meant what he did, but it’s happened and he will need to own it."

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon concedes Jimmy Webster will likely be handed a significant ban for his bump on Jy Simpkin. Pic: Getty
St Kilda coach Ross Lyon concedes Jimmy Webster will likely be handed a significant ban for his bump on Jy Simpkin. Pic: Getty

Jimmy Webster facing big ban for St Kilda

Collingwood legend and Fox Footy commentator Nathan Buckley was among those to condemn Webster's actions and make a direct comparison to the Powell-Pepper hit that resulted in a four-week ban. Buckley insisted the Webster hit was much worse and should result in an even lengthier ban for the Saints player.

"For mine, this is one of the issues of hedging SPP's (Sam Powell-Pepper) action at 4 weeks," wrote Buckley on X. "(The) Webster action was at least twice as bad in my view. Does that mean it’s an 8-week penalty?" Fellow AFL analyst David King went even further after posting on X: "Ten weeks. Simple as that. I just hope Jy Simpkin is ok. Just so unnecessary. I hope we aren’t still having this conversation anymore in 24."

Lyon conceded his player was facing a "significant ban" for the "unacceptable" act and said the club's thoughts were with Simpkin's wellbeing. "There is real concern for Jy, and in the current environment coming a week after Sam Powell-Pepper, we understand it is going to be a significant ban... but you’ve got to pay a price and he understands that," Lyon added. "The bottom line is it was an unacceptable action on a footy field."

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