AFL players in brilliant show of support for Abbey Holmes after Lachie Neale kiss controversy

A number of Carlton players showed their appreciation for the Channel 7 commentator.

A number of AFL players showed their support for Abbey Holmes over the weekend after the popular commentator was caught in controversy over a post-match moment with Lachie Neale from earlier this month. Holmes and Neale were questioned by The Age columnist Kate Halfpenny over whether it was appropriate for them to share a kiss on the cheek given they were technically in the workplace.

Holmes and Neale, who are friends off the field, shared a friendly hug and peck on the cheek following a post-match interview in Round 13. No one made much of it at the time, but Halfpenny wrote a column last week suggesting they crossed a line, while AFL legend Leigh Matthews also expressed his surprise over the moment.

Tom de Koning and Abbey Holmes.
Tom de Koning was among a number of AFL players to show their support to Abbey Holmes. Image: Channel 7/Getty

Neale and Holmes both hit back and defended themselves last week, and a number of Carlton players sent a clear message of support to the Channel 7 commentator on Friday night. Holmes interviewed Tom De Koning, Charlie Curnow and Alex Cincotta after the Blues' win over Geelong, and all three players made a point of greeting her warmly.

De Koning gave Holmes a hug and kiss on the cheek after his interview, while Curnow and Cincotta also showed their appreciation. De Koning's actions appeared to be a huge middle finger to the critics of former AFLW player Holmes, who has become a popular interviewer and host.

Abbey Holmes and Tom de Koning after their interview.
Abbey Holmes and Tom de Koning shared a kiss and hug after their interview. Image: Channel 7

Discussing the storm around herself and Neale last week, Holmes revealed that Neale's wife had actually texted her a message of support as well. “It’s really frustrating for me," Holmes said on LiSTNR’s 'Footy Talk' podcast. "Lachie is a good friend of mine, so that’s just something that you do – you greet your friends. Whether that’s a hug or a kiss on the cheek.

"The fact that this has been blown up out of proportion to the actual incident itself. It's really upsetting for me. This isn't the first time that a player who I've got a great relationship has given me a hug or given me a kiss. I've worked so hard over such a long period of time now to build relationships, to build trust, to build rapport with these players and coaches and make them feel like they are in a really safe space when they're with me. And that that's what probably upset me the most.

"I don't want my friends to feel uncomfortable in how they going to greet me or say goodbye to me. That's not fair. I just feel as though [it was] was taken out of proportion massively."

Lachie Neale alongside wife Jules and Abbey Holmes.
Lachie Neale's wife Jules (L) texted Abbey Holmes (R) to make sure she was okay. Image: Getty/Channel 7

She added: “Jules Neale even sent me a message this morning saying, 'I hope you're okay - this is ridiculous'. I'm like, 'mate, I know, Lachie’s a friend of mine.”


Speaking on Channel 9, Neale said: "The fact that it's been brought up a week later is a little bit strange. I didn't really know about it until the other day. It's sort of come as a bit of a surprise."

Matthews was among those who questioned the kiss, saying: “You assume they must know each other very well. Because normally you only give a kiss on the cheek to someone you know quite well, otherwise you shake their hand.

“I would shake the hands of a woman I don’t know very well. The kiss on the cheek is normally for someone you know very well. I don’t know how well they know each other. I assume they know each other very well, otherwise it’s a highly unusual thing which is why we’re talking about it. It is a first. I’ve never seen it before. Have you ever seen it? That’s why we’re talking about it. It’s quite an unusual one.”