Geelong coach Chris Scott has divided opinion in the AFL world after speaking out against the state of the MCG surface, in the wake of his side's 22-point loss to Collingwood on Friday night. The defending premiers went down after a late fightback from Collingwood, who lost defender Jeremy Howe to a horrific injury in the third quarter of their 19.11 (125) to 16.7 (103) triumph.
Speaking to reporters after the final siren, Scott was asked about the state of the surface at the MCG, after the iconic venue was forced to undergo a $1 million facelift just a week before the season kicked off. That came after more than 215,000 people attended two Ed Sheeran concerts at the iconic venue, resulting in the costly refurbishment of the hallowed turf.
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The Geelong coach initially brushed off questions about the state of the ground after suggesting it was a bad look for a losing coach to be complaining about the surface. “Yeah I think it is an interesting discussion for others to have, but it’s distasteful if the coach of the losing team talks about the surface, but it’s worthy of discussion I think,” Scott said in his post-match press conference.
He was then coerced into elaborating on the turf after a follow-up question from a journalist. Scott said while he was determined to keep his own thoughts on the issue private, he did "relay" some of the concerns from his players.
“I’m relaying this - and I‘ve got an opinion I’m going to keep to myself - but the issue is that there are differences on the ground now,” Scott added. “Some bits that are really firm and you can keep your feet and other bits that are really soft and you can’t keep your feet.
“I guess the point that is raised - and again, it’s not a criticism, it’s not my area - but it’s been a long time since the grand final. It’s the biggest game in the land and it’s the best ground in the world in my view, so to compromise a surface is a strange decision to make voluntarily.
“If stuff happens, and the weather is beyond your control, fair enough. But it was an own goal I reckon.”
AFL debate erupts over Chris Scott comments
Many AFL fans agreed with Scott's take after labelling the surface a "disgrace" and questioning the wisdom behind holding a concert at the MCG one week before the opening round of the season. However, others branded Scott a "poor loser", with National Affairs Editor at the SMH and The Age, James Massola, calling the Cats coach “the most graceless loser in the AFL”.
Of course Chris Scott is mentioning the MCG ground condition after that loss. They didn’t kick a goal all of the last quarter
— Emily (@emdowell) March 18, 2023
The most graceless loser in the AFL.
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) March 17, 2023
I'm really not understanding the negative discourse around what Chris Scott has said here. The same old detractors are coming out of the woodwork saying he's a bad loser - at no point in this interview does he blame the loss on the surface.https://t.co/IXBfdR4t6E
— Kyle Pollard (@KylePollard) March 17, 2023
AFL news 2023: Chris Scott sparks debate with criticism of MCG surface in Geelong Cats loss == pathetic poor loser -- its not as if the pitch was different for Collingwood -- come on -- why cant you be a man ? ? ? Maybe you could shave ? ? ?
— DBLE david (@DavidDble) March 17, 2023
Both teams slipping around all night, fair enough
— Jack Brogden (@BrogdenJack) March 17, 2023
How about they just got beaten by a better side on the night. Both teams played on the same surface.
— John Collias (@JohnJcollias) March 17, 2023
Scott went on to blame "round-one rust" for his side's uncharacteristic late fade against the Pies. The Cats were overrun by Collingwood in the second half, conceding the last eight goals of the match to lose by 22 points.
The loss was compounded by several injuries for the Cats, with vice-captain Tom Stewart unlikely to play next week after suffering a knee injury early in the match. Scott is confident that Sam De Koning (knee), Tyson Stengle (shoulder) and Tom Hawkins (calf, knee) will be ready for next Thursday night's game against Carlton.
Geelong looked on the verge of breaking the game open several times before Collingwood took control. The Cats led by as much as 22 points in the third term, but left the gate open.
"There was a bit of round-one rust," Scott said "If you can't roll with the punches in round one, you're going to have a really frustrating year as a coaching group.
"I didn't go into this game thinking we're the best team in the comp. I knew we would have improvement in us."
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