Western Bulldogs star Mitch Honeychurch has been taken to hospital after a sickening clash with West Coast’s Shannon Hurn during his side’s big loss on Sunday.
The two men were competing for the football when Honeychurch fumbled it and crashed head-first into the side of his much bigger opponent.
Although Hurn’s third-quarter bump wasn’t forceful or malicious, the fact it was high contact and he had the option not to bump is set to count against him when AFL match review officer Michael Christian reviews it.
Honeychurch was stretchered off in a neck brace before being taken to hospital for scans.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said Honeychurch wouldn’t be able to fly back to Melbourne with the team on Sunday.
“We hope he’s alright. It’s hard to speculate on what it may be,” Beveridge said.
“There’s concerns around the neck.
“We all care deeply about our players, and it’s quite disconcerting when there is a possibility of a serious injury.
“The early indications are that he should be OK.”
West Coast coach Adam Simpson doesn’t feel like Hurn should be punished for the incident.
“Unfortunate accident are the words that come to my mind,” Simpson said.
“It felt like he (Hurn) almost stopped and apologised before it happened.
“It looked like an unfortunate accident, so I am assuming not much will happen from it.”
The incident was the only sour note for West Coast as they cruised to the 14.16 (100) to 6.10 (46) win in front of 46,854 fans at Optus Stadium.
The Eagles’ flags hopes suffered a huge blow last week when Naitanui ruptured the ACL in his right knee.
But Scott Lycett (23 hit-outs, 10 possessions) and Nathan Vardy (16 hit-outs, 12 disposals) were solid, helping West Coast score a series of first-half goals from stoppages.
The duo will face far tougher tests in the coming weeks as the Eagles attempt to lock down a top-two berth.
West Coast’s third win on the trot kept them within percentage of ladder-leading Richmond.
Importantly, West Coast (13-4) are now two wins clear inside the top four, putting them in the box seat to secure a double finals chance.
The Bulldogs entered Sunday’s match having won just two second halves all season.
But it was the first half when West Coast inflicted the bulk of the damage, kicking seven-straight goals during a hot stretch to set up a 34-point lead by the long break.
Bulldogs midfielder Luke Dahlhaus is set to miss some weeks after injuring his left ankle.
Eagles forwards Jack Darling and Jamie Cripps each booted three goals, while Elliot Yeo, Andrew Gaff, and Luke Shuey were crucial in the midfield.
Jeremy McGovern was huge in defence with five contested marks.