Tom Liberatore in fresh AFL fallout after 'scary' scenes during Western Bulldogs game

The Western Bulldogs star was seen collapsing to the ground late in the match.

The Western Bulldogs have decided to place Tom Liberatore in concussion protocols after a follow-up investigation into the star's late-game collapse in Friday night's loss to Essendon. The Bulldogs faced scrutiny across the AFL world for their response to the concerning scenes during the 29-point loss, with the player and club insisting he lost balance due to an ankle injury and that no concussion symptoms were present.

The club has since released a statement on Saturday to explain that although Liberatore was not displaying concussion symptoms, they've decided to withdraw him from next week's game against St Kilda. “Immediately following last night’s fixture against Essendon, Tom Liberatore reported to the Bulldogs’ medical team with no concussion symptoms and passed a head injury assessment, conducted as per AFL protocols,” the club statement said.

Tom Liberatore's late-game collapse for the Western Bulldogs sparked concerns around the AFL world. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty
Tom Liberatore's late-game collapse for the Western Bulldogs sparked concerns around the AFL world. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty

“Tom remains without concussion symptoms this morning. However, given the concerning nature of in-game footage during the final minutes that show Tom falling to the ground, the Club’s medical team has subsequently reached a decision to place him in concussion protocols. This decision has been taken with an abundance of caution, with Tom’s health and wellbeing the absolute priority.”

The loss for the Dogs was further soured by the sight of Liberatore collapsing to the ground with no one around him late in the final quarter. It came after the Dogs on-baller had copped heavy shots from Jake Stringer and Nick Hind earlier in the match, with the player telling ABC Radio post-match that he'd lost his balance after tweaking his ankle in the fourth term.

But commentators and fans pointed out that Liberatore appeared dazed after getting back to his feet, before finishing the game for the Dogs. Liberatore passed a SCAT5 concussion test after the game, clearing him to conduct post-match interviews and Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge also insisted his player had no concussion symptoms in the sheds after the game.

"For some reason he lost his footing and stumbled, but he's fine," Beveridge said. "He's been looked after and there's no concussion or anything like that. We were coming in (to the changeroom) just making sure he's ok and he's apparently fine."

Tom Liberatore collapse sparks concern around AFL world

Many viewers weren't buying that explanation from the Western Bulldogs though after insisting that the player looked groggy after the big shots on him earlier in the game. The Bulldogs confirmed to Fox Sports afterwards that the follow-up investigation would be launched into the circumstances around Liberatore's collapse - prompting the move to place him into concussion protocols.

SEN reporter Sam Edmund confirmed on Saturday that "AFL chief medical officer Michael Makdissi is in contact with the Dogs over Liberatore's collapse". He said the AFL was satisfied the vision didn't show head trauma in the build-up to the collapse but added that Liberatore would be made to undergo follow-up tests within the next 48 hours.

Essendon into top eight after third win of the season

Liberatore (25 disposals, nine clearances) was busy for the Dogs, as were teammates Adam Treloar (28, four) and Ed Richards (22 touches) but they were powerless to stop Essendon's spread of contributors. Bombers midfielders Zach Merrett (27 disposals), Jye Caldwell (23) and Sam Durham (21) excelled, while Jake Stringer booted two goals against his former club.


Kyle Langford (three), Harrison Jones and Xavier Duursma (two each) also kicked multiple goals as Brad Scott's men bounced back from their Gather Round mauling by Port Adelaide to go 3-2 for the season. "Clearly the response to a poor performance last week was what's important," Bombers coach Scott said.

This image shows Essendon's Kyle Langford making a tackle against the Western Bulldogs in the AFL.
Essendon's Kyle Langford makes a tackle against the Western Bulldogs in the AFL. Pic: AAP

"When things are going well for you, you get positive reinforcement of what's working, but I've always been a believer that you learn most from your losses. To respond like we did particularly in centre bounces was really important and I thought our rucks were really important in that part of the game as well."

The win sees Essendon jump into the top eight ahead of next week's trip to face the winless Adelaide Crows. Meantime, the Bulldogs remain on the bottom half of the ladder after their their loss in five games and face St Kilda at Marvel Stadium next Thursday night.

with AAP