Pies rally around Ginnivan over AFL frees

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Collingwood teammates have rallied around Jack Ginnivan amid the furore over AFL players ducking and shrugging their shoulders to win free kicks for high contact.

The league moved to clarify its rules around those methods this week after heated debate surrounding Ginnivan and whether he is being umpired differently to other players.

A clip of the 19-year-old goal sneak was used in a league memo to clubs as one of three examples of players attempting to win high-contact frees.

"He's one of my good mates so I speak with him about it a fair bit," Magpies defender Isaac Quaynor told reporters on Thursday.

"It really helps, the environment we've created at the club, that we all wrap our arms around each and every person.

"He's had the spotlight on him a little bit so he's probably needed a couple extra people to give him a little cuddle here and there.

"But I think he's going really well and obviously he's playing great football, so I think that's really important as well."

In its statement this week, the AFL said ball-carriers will not be rewarded with free kicks if they are "responsible for the high contact via a shrug, drop or arm lift."

Despite the crackdown, Quaynor doesn't believe Ginnivan needs to change his approach.

The second-year forward has enjoyed a breakout season with Collingwood, kicking 29 goals in 15 games.

"Firstly, he's had an unbelievable season (and) to do what he's doing is really impressive," Quaynor said.

"He'll keep playing the way that he does, he'll keep doing what he does.

"It's been really clear ... the AFL's made the rules really obvious to the players, so it will be a good opportunity for him to go out and do his thing."

The league's move to reinforce high contact rules sparked fierce criticism from Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge, who accused decision-makers of flinching at media criticism.

But opinion is divided among senior coaches, with Melbourne's Simon Goodwin, Geelong's Chris Scott, Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell and West Coast's Adam Simpson backing the move.

"I think it's heading towards the right call," Simpson said.

"I was watching an under-12s game a few years ago with my son and the boys were trying to milk it a little bit, and I thought, 'They're picking that up from us.'

"We weren't coaching it and I'm sure none of the coaches do, but if it's a way to get a free kick and you can exploit the rules then it's the way to go.

"When your kids start doing it and putting themselves at risk for the sake of a free kick, you don't want that to trickle down.

"I can see why the AFL are making a call on things and I don't think it's the worst call."

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan defended the crackdown and said the league wants players to protect themselves, especially their heads, with the way they approach contests.

"There's no rule change, it's just clarifying head-high contact," McLachlan said.

"There was a lot of other coaches who were very positive about that.

"Everyone's got their views.

"It was important to clarify it and that's what we've done."

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