The Melbourne Demons are planning to appeal the two-match ban handed down to young gun Jacob van Rooyen, which was applied after the 20-year-old collected Gold Coast Suns defender Charlie Ballard with his forearm in an attempt to spoil the ball. Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has suggested the appeal is partially in order to gain some clarity from the tribunal, after the ban was met with widespread outcry in the footy world.
Van Rooyen stopped immediately after the contest, aware that he'd collected Ballard high and seemingly motioning to check on him as play stopped. Ballard was taken from the ground on a stretcher, but was subsequently cleared of any injury and is likely to play this weekend for the Suns.
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The Demons made note of Ballard's escape from any injury, saying the club had been in touch with the Suns to check if he was OK before they announced their intent to appeal the ban. Their appeal will be based on the argument that van Rooyen had genuinely been attempting to spoil the ball.
Match review officer Michael Christian classed the hit as careless conduct, high contact and high impact when the ban was announced on Sunday night. However there were many AFL fans who felt van Rooyen was stiff to be rubbed out for two weeks as a result.
Melbourne will appeal Jacob van Rooyen's two match suspension.
It's important to note Charlie Ballard is OK and expected to play this weekend.pic.twitter.com/FUOs1So7xB
— Melbourne Footy (@MelbourneFooty) May 8, 2023
Spot on from Jonathan Brown: “if he [Jacob Van Rooyen] gets suspended for that it will be one of the worst decisions in tribunal history”. https://t.co/oJVTz5DTU8
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) May 7, 2023
I will never be 'done with' footy, but if Jacob van Rooyen is suspended as a result of that clash late in yesterday's match, a part of my faith in the game will die. It is SO blatantly obvious he was trying to spoil the ball and the contact was not in any way late or excessive.
— David Ingram (@Dinkum270926) May 7, 2023
Intent only for the footy. It’s a free kick and that’s all it should ever be.
— Konyo West (@WestKonyo) May 6, 2023
It was high and certainly a free kick, but he’s entitled to contest the ball and try to spoil.
— SimonC (@simonsbargains) May 6, 2023
Buckley said the appeal could partly 'do the other clubs a favour' by potentially overturning the ban and setting somewhat of a precedent. However he indicated on SEN that he wasn't getting his hopes up about the MRO decision being reversed.
“This is the old, ‘do the whole competition a favour, Melbourne, and contest this and get the kid off’. I don’t think that he should go for that,” Buckley told SEN.
“Having to go back with the flight, you’re not always going to be able to get your eyes back to the ball. You’re looking for the hands of the opponent and you’re trying to get your fist to the hand so you can intersect and hit the ball.
“That’s exactly what Van Rooyen was doing. There was some head contact, but …”
Sharing a clip of the incident on Twitter, alongside their intention to appeal Van Rooyen's ban, the Demons said it was 'important to note' that Ballard suffered no ill-effects from the bruising contest. Van Rooyen - a first-round draft pick last year - has kicked 11 goals in six senior matches since debuting in round three.
Carlton and Geelong also set to challenge bans at AFL tribunal
Van Rooyen won't be the only player challenging a ban this week, with Carlton's Nic Newman hoping to have his one-match ban for striking Brisbane's Lachie Neale overturned. Newman collected Neale with an elbow as players jostled for position around a ball-up in the Lions' forward 50, resulting in a shot on goal for the 2020 Brownlow medallist.
One Lions player could be overheard on the umpire's microphone that Newman's hit was a 'dog-shot' in the eventual 26-point victory over the Blues. The match review officer charged in-form small defender Newman with striking, graded as intentional, low impact and high contact.
"Newy's been massive for us this season - not just defensively but what he provides with the ball in his hand as well," teammate Adam Cerra said on Monday. "We don't take it for granted ... we've got options if he is to miss but he will be missed."
Geelong's Brad Close will also attempt to have a one-match ban struck down. Close was cited for a dangerous tackle on Adelaide's Jordan Dawson.
His tackle was deemed careless conduct, medium impact and high contact by the MRO, with an identical grading handed to Hawthorn's Tyler Brockman for his sling tackle on Fremantle's Brandon Walker. Brockman accepted his one-week ban, while Close and Geelong are off to the tribunal.
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