‘Sent off’: AFL legend’s big call after bump

AFL Rd 2 -  Sydney v Essendon
Harry Cunningham was concussed after a collision with Peter Wright. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images

AFL legend Leigh Matthew has added his voice to calls for a send-off rule in the wake of Essendon’s Peter Wright being sent straight to the tribunal for his bump on Sydney’s Harry Cunningham on Saturday night.

Wright is staring at a minimum three-match ban after the incident was graded as careless conduct, high contact and severe impact but potentially more amid the AFL’s crackdown on avoidable incidents that leave players concussed.

The Swans were a man down for three quarters after the collision in the opening term and Matthews said he was now a strong advocate for players who cause game-ending injuries in such a manner, where suspension seems a clear outcome, to be sent from the field to “even up the numbers”.

“He should have been sent off,” Matthews said.

“I am a great proponent now because players get sent off with concussion … an incident like that, everyone has seen it … it was a three or four weeker from the moment it happened, Cunningham was out for the game.

“That’s where there should be a send-off mechanism so that player who did it, in this case Wright, is off for the rest of the game just to even out the numbers.

“Forget about what happens at the tribunal afterwards. The Swans are down a player for three quarters and the player who inflicted it plays on. I do think there should be a send-off rule in place.”

Matthews said there were available mechanisms for umpires to look at vision and make a determination that is in line with the AFL’s increasingly strong stance on incidents where players are concussed.

“It wouldn’t worry me if it was at the next break in quarters, if the umpires went and looked at the vision,” the four-time premiership coach told Channel 9’s Footy Furnace.

“Everyone who watched the vision knows it was a suspendable offence. That’s the trigger point, and the player who did the concussion damage is removed from the field.”

Matthews did back Essendon’s effort to play with the “edge” called for from coach Brad Scott despite it being mocked by Sydney’s Tom Papley.

But Matthews said it needed to be “controlled aggression”

“If it gets uncontrolled, it’s going to be angry an unproductive,” he said.

“But you’ve got to be really aggressive in your approach to the game.”