'Complete stupidity': Controversial act sparks AFL diving debate

·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
A 50-50 split image shows Jasper Pittard shoving Marc Murphy on the left, and Murphy appealing to the umpire on the right.
North Melbourne's Jasper Pittard cost the Kangaroos a crucial shot on goal after shoving Carlton's Marc Murphy to the ground, a moment that has sparked a debate about milking free kicks. Pictures: AFL/Fox Footy

Former Port Adelaide star Kane Cornes and veteran sports broadcaster Gerard Whateley have clashed over a moment of ‘complete stupidity’ during round 8 of the AFL season.

The pair were discussing the bizarre end to the third quarter of Carlton’s win over North Melbourne, in which Kangaroos midfielder Jasper Pittard cost his team a potential shot on goal when he ran in and shoved Blues veteran Marc Murphy to the ground after he was outmarked by teammate Jared Polec on the siren.

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The umpire reversed the decision to pay the mark, robbing Polec of his shot on goal and bringing the quarter to an end.

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Whether or not Murphy had taken a dive when shoved by Pittard was subject to some debate, with Cornes believing the Carlton veteran had taken a dive - backed up by Channel 7 reporter Mark Stevens on Twitter, who wrote at the time “The push to the chest, not high. Oh boy. That ain’t a free, as silly as Pittard was for even going there.”

While Cornes agreed that it was ‘complete stupidity’ for Pittard to even approach Murphy given the Kangaroos were five point behind with a chance to seize the lead heading into the final quarter, he said the umpire had been ‘gullible’.

“I’m not defending Pittard and saying it was anything other than complete stupidity, but it shouldn’t have been a free kick. The umpire was gullible,” Cornes said on SEN.

“It shouldn’t have been a free kick and I think the best way to stamp out flopping or diving or exaggerating contact, which is probably what Murphy did, the best way to stop it is for the umpire to look at him and say, ‘Get up Marc, stop carrying on’, and we highlight it.

“Let’s not reward actions like this.”

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While Cornes was not alone in thinking Murphy had exaggerated the contact, Whateley was adamant that regardless of any potential flopping, a free kick wouldn’t have been called in the first place if Pittard didn’t go out of his way to target Murphy.

“I’ve watched this over and over and over,” Whateley said.

“Murphy has had a mark taken over him. He’s done nothing wrong and doesn’t realise he’s at the heart of anything.

Jasper Pittard joined the Kangaroos at the end of the 2019 season, after several seasons with Port Adelaide. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Jasper Pittard joined the Kangaroos at the end of the 2019 season, after several seasons with Port Adelaide. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“He’s not looking in any way to his right as a player comes totally unprovoked and unexpected at full pace and bowls him over.

“If you are standing not braced for any contact and a bloke runs into you, you are going to get knocked over.

“I just can’t see it as anything other than physics. He got knocked over by a fool.”