GWS Giants coach Adam Kingsley has slammed suggestions that Stephen Coniglio was consistently arguing with umpires before the controversial dissent decision that has re-ignited debate in the AFL. Coniglio was pinged by umpire Craig Fleer in the fourth quarter of the Giants' loss to Carlton, after he threw his arms up to question a non-call on what he thought was holding the ball.
The Blues kicked a behind on the play, before Fleer awarded them a free kick straight in front for Coniglio's act of dissent. Jesse Motlop kicked the ensuing goal to put the Blues in front, and GWS didn't score again.
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Earlier this week, leading reporter Jon Ralph claimed the free kick had been the 'final straw' after Coniglio had been 'badgering' the umpires all throughout the game. He reported: “My understanding is the AFL believes Stephen Coniglio was consistently badgering or complaining to the umpiring department throughout the game for free kicks – and this was the last straw, this is why the umpire made this decision."
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But Kingsley rubbished that suggestion on Wednesday in a staunch defence of his player. "The (dissent) rule itself is not an issue. That decision ... oh well, we move on," he told reporters.
"We certainly know that the rhetoric has been around that it was a reaction to numerous events - well, I can tell you that is just completely rubbish. That's not the case at all, so anyone who wants to attack the decision from that angle is completely wrong.
"That's complete rubbish ... when you look at Cogs, you're dealing with one of the most respectful people in the AFL."
The call was branded a 'disgrace' by former Sydney Swans player Ryan Fitzgerald, while many more agreed that the umpire overreacted. But the AFL publicly addressed the controversy on Monday, with umpire's boss Dan Richardson ticking off the decision while encouraging players to respect umpires and their "human response" to being questioned.
"If there was no challenge to the decision, regardless of personal opinion on the threshold, then no free kick could or would have been paid," Richardson said. "Just like we have some players or coaches who occasionally get emotional, or become overly expressive when under pressure, we also have umpires with differing levels of temperament. We have a set of guidelines for the umpires to work between, and we coach them, but we also can't coach human response."
Adam Kingsley questions interpretation of dissent rule
Kingsley said the Giants have great respect for umpires, but suggested the dissent rule is suddenly being applied differently now to most of last season. "We know it's a hard game to umpire already, so why are we making it even more difficult," he said.
"The rule where it was midway through last season to the finish of last season is where it needs to be. I felt like it was really well umpired in that time frame."
Carlton defender Sam Docherty had earlier stressed that he believe it's important to protect the umpires. "An overarching principle of why they brought in the dissent rule was to protect the umpires and I think that itself is what it should be," he said.
"The hard part with it, it's open to interpretation between umpires and some things will get paid, some won't. There's grey all over it ... you've just got to accept that's part of AFL footy and it's an incredibly hard game to umpire and our umpires do a great job."
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