Grant Thomas slammed by AFL fans over comments about Max Gawn injury

The sad scenes around Max Gawn's injury kicked off a heated debate across the AFL world.

Pictured here, Max Gawn after his knee injury that Grant Thomas commented on.
Grant Thomas sparked uproar with comments about Max Gawn's knee injury in the AFL. Pic: Fox Footy Getty

Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas has faced the wrath of the AFL world after a controversial take on the devastating Max Gawn images over the weekend. Gawn cut a forlorn figure in the locker rooms after he was forced out of Friday night's loss to Brisbane at the Gabba with a knee injury.

At half-time, broadcasters showed images of Gawn sitting on the floor in the change rooms with ice around his knee. The Demons captain looked completely dejected, with many fans fearing the worst for a player who's suffered from serious ACL injuries in the past.

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Gawn was flooded with messages of support as the heartbreaking image of him spread around the country. Most AFL fans wished the Melbourne captain a speedy recovery, but Thomas sparked uproar with a contentious take on the incident.

The former Saints coach argued that it was a bad look for the captain of the club to be sitting in the sheds while his team was playing out on the field. Thomas argued that the Demons would have been better served having their inspirational skipper cheering the team on from the bench, and providing a morale boost for a side overrun by the Lions early in the second half.

“Possibly wouldn’t have changed much but Gawn sooking downstairs instead of icing on bench and connecting with team he is captain of didn’t help,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. His post was quickly jumped on by AFL fans who argued that Thomas didn't know the full extent of Gawn's injury and criticised the former coach for the brutal take.

Despite copping a raft of backlash over his post, Thomas initially refused to back down. He added about the incident: “If Gawn alternatively walked straight upstairs and started encouraging team mates I’m certain you’d all be praising his leadership and he uplifted instead you are feeling sorry for him because he was downtrodden."

Thomas was at pains to point out that he hoped Gawn was OK and said it was never his intention to suggest otherwise. However, he did admit that he got it wrong by using the term "sooking" to refer to the Demons skipper and said he was sorry for any offence it caused.

“Understand some are offended with the word “sooking”, it was a bad choice of words,” he posted. “Looking downtrodden and sad probably better but my summary of that is sooking which sounds a tad harsh. Apologies to those few.”

Pictured right is Melbourne Demons captain Max Gawn after injuring his knee in the AFL.
Max Gawn (pictured right) cut a forlorn figure after injuring his knee in the Demons' loss to the Lions in the AFL. (Images: Fox Sports)

Max Gawn injury not as bad as first feared

The immediate reaction of the majority of AFL fans was of concern for Gawn and hope that the injury was not too serious. “That image is worth 1000 words if you are seeing it,” Gerard Whateley said in commentary on SEN. “And if you’re not, it’s despondency if ever you’ve seen it.”

Fortunately for Gawn and the Demons, scans revealed the injury wasn't as bad as some had feared. The premiership winner avoided a season-ending knee injury to his ACL, and instead suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee.

It means the six-time All-Australian will still miss at least the next month of footy, in a significant blow for the Melbourne side. "Max had scans which show a moderate-grade medial ligament injury," Melbourne's football manager Alan Richardson said. "And at this stage, we expect him to be available in four to six weeks.

"Max has seen a knee specialist and is working with our medical and high-performance team to determine the best return-to-play rehabilitation program." Gawn initially feared he had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) which would have sidelined him for 12 months.

with AAP

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