Several former AFL stars have spoken out against 'whispers' that have emerged about discontent within the AFL's ranks after the latest off-field story surrounding the Richmond Tigers.
On Monday night it emerged two Tigers players, Daniel Rioli and Shai Bolton, were involved in a nightclub altercation which stemmed from 'inappropriate behaviour' towards Rioli's girlfriend, Paris Lawrence.
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Bolton sustained a fractured wrist which has sidelined him for the next two to three weeks, while Rioli was also punched in the face during the altercation.
While neither the AFL or Richmond have voiced any intention to sanction the pair for their actions, with both Tigers president Brendan Gale and coach Damien Hardwick defending their players on Tuesday, some reports have suggested growing unease within the league.
Veteran AFL reporter Damien Barrett said other clubs were 'rolling their eyes' at the Tigers following the latest incident, which comes after a scandal-plagued 2020 season which saw players Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones suspended for 10 games each after becoming involved in a brawl on the Gold Coast, as well as captain Trent Cotchin's wife Brooke's day-spa quarantine gaffe.
Barrett went on to to say that, although Richmond found themselves in yet another off-field scandal they'd rather have avoided, there were unlikely to be any real ramifications.
Former St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt, cousin of Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt, said it was 'complete garbage' to suggest the latest incident would indicate a fall from grace for the reigning premiers.
“There will be some people out there who want to make a link between what happened on Saturday night with Bolton and Rioli and … a crumbling of culture, of hunger of humbleness and all those sorts of things — which is complete garbage," Riewoldt said on Fox Sports program On The Couch.
Fellow former AFL great Garry Lyon concurred, saying it was 'ignorant' to believe otherwise despite the club's 4-4 start to the 2021 season.
“Given what we’ve seen here with Richmond I think it’s reasonable to ponder that the era may be coming to an end,” he said.
“And it’s just as reasonable to know that you’re going to be horribly embarrassed by them when it’s not.”
Tigers expect Bolton to sign new contract
Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale says Shai Bolton's involvement in a nightclub fight will not hurt the young star's bid for a bumper new AFL contract with the Tigers.
The in-form playmaker joined the club's lengthy on-ball injury list on Monday when he had surgery on a fractured wrist.
Bolton injured himself when he stepped into help premiership teammate Daniel Rioli during a nightclub altercation at the weekend and will miss up to three weeks.
Richmond believe Rioli's girlfriend was "subjected to inappropriate behaviour" before the forward was punched in the face.
Bolton has become one of Richmond's most crucial players and is set to sign a hefty new contract from next year and beyond.
"We're in discussions with Shai and (his manager) Ralph (Carr)," Gale told SEN.
"This (incident) will have no bearing on those discussions.
"I'm confident he won't be going anywhere. He loves it here, he thrives here and really belongs here."
Gale said it was a disappointing situation the pair found themselves in and preferred the club not to be having to deal with it.
"At the end of the day, Daniel and Shai responded to what they deemed to be inappropriate conduct," Gale added.
"Gee it would be a whole lot easier if Shai and Daniel sat home on the couch every night, but that's not the way you expect to live.
"From time to time they're going to make mistakes."
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