Nick Riewoldt has come under fire over his criticism of a contentious umpiring moment during the second week of the AFL finals.
Veteran whistleblower Shaun Ryan copped backlash from a number of AFL greats after he issued a warning to GWS star Adam Kennedy for stepping outside ‘the spirit of the game’.
Kennedy was seen targeting Charlie Cameron’s injured arm after he returned to the field after a nasty incident saw him hyperextend his elbow.
Ryan warned Kennedy to stop or he’d concede a free kick.
“You’ve been warned. If you knock his arm it is against the spirit of the game. If you continually knock his arm I will pay a free kick,” Ryan told Kennedy.
On Monday, Riewoldt said the umpire’s actions were “a complete joke”.
“The law is wrong,” Riewoldt said.
“Does that mean you’re allowed to put a special coloured tape around it and go up to the umpire and say, ‘Hey, just so you know, I’ve got a bit of a corky on this side of my body, so can you just make sure nobody goes after it please’.
“I hated seeing this on the weekend. I think this is a complete joke. It’s a complete joke that the umpire would warn a player that you’re not allowed to do that to another player.”
Caroline Wilson torches Riewoldt
But according to Caroline Wilson, the umpire was completely right.
Describing Kennedy’s actions as “disgraceful”, the veteran journalist took aim at Riewoldt and a number of other former players.
“What a sad state of affairs when an umpire invokes the spirit of the game and is pilloried for it,” Wilson said on Footy Classified.
“What a sorry situation when coaches and former players look for the doomsday scenario.
“The lowest common denominator of human sporting behaviour in reporting good, sensible, honourable and practical umpiring.
“As if Charlie Cameron was not obviously hurt. As if players are going to deliberately make a habit of feigning injuries to be protected. Ryan did the right thing.
“A player is badly injured, he gets back on the ground, he is not fair game to be constantly niggled and pushed and tugged and if an umpire occasionally says we are going to invoke the spirit of the game, I don’t think it’s going to be a massive issue.”
Fellow panellists Chris Judd and Matthew Lloyd said they agreed with Riewoldt, while Garry Lyon was critical of the umpire at the time.
“This isn’t excessive or extraordinary (contact). This is a final for God’s sake, what is that umpire talking about?,” Lyon said in commentary.
“Moments after Cameron comes charging through in a 50-50 contest and sets up a goal. That is nonsense from the umpire.”