Franklin cleared as AFL MRO speaks on tribunal calls

Jason Phelan

AFL match review officer Michael Christian has declared he is not at odds with the league over umpire contact and the tribunal's differing penalties.

Christian cleared Sydney superstar Lance Franklin of any wrongdoing over a collision that left Fremantle's Joel Hamling concussed.

Franklin's swinging left elbow made contact with the defender's jaw in the second quarter of the Swans' win at the SCG.

Hamling was unable to see out the match after he failed a concussion test.

Christian deemed Franklin was seeking to evade a tackle and his actions weren't unreasonable in the circumstances.

"Franklin had the ball under his left arm and as he tried to shrug and break the Hamling tackle he made contact," Christian told reporters on Monday.

"But I didn't believe he breached his duty of care.

"I think when a player has possession of the ball his duty of care is perhaps not as high as if he was tackling or bumping.

"I believe that in the circumstances he was entitled to try to break the tackle, which he did, and was eventually able to get the handball off."

After a contentious round eight that saw four players front the tribunal, six fines were handed out for incidents that occurred during round nine with no suspensions offered.

Carlton's Ed and Charlie Curnow and Gold Coast's Steven May all went straight to the tribunal for intentionally touching an umpire last week.

All three were let off with fines but Ed was later banned for one match on appeal – the same penalty handed to Geelong's Tom Hawkins for the same offence a week earlier.

The merits of the differing penalties were hotly debated given the mixed messages they sent regarding umpire contact.

But Christian is okay with the tribunal coming to different decisions than he arrives at given the extra evidence that is presented by clubs at a tribunal hearing.

"I don't feel undermined," he said.

"I think that my responsibility in that initial phase is to determine whether the contact was careless or intentional in those four cases.

"With the vision that was available we decided it was intentional, but that's the process at play.

"There are other decisions that the tribunal has seen differently to Steve (Hocking) and I, but that's the process working."