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‘Worse level’: AFL great calls for staging ban

Nathan Buckley and Steven May.
Nathan Buckley and Steven May.

AFL great says Nathan Buckley says Steven May should have been suspended and not just fined for staging and the Melbourne defender’s act was made worse given the legacy left by his retired premiership teammate Angus Brayshaw.

May was fined $1250 for dropping his head into the ground and then putting his hands to his face after a tackle against North Melbourne on Saturday night at the MCG that resulted in a free kick for a dangerous tackle.

But amid an outcry among the AFL community, Buckley, who conceded to feeling “terrible” about once flopping for a free kick himself, said May’s act was on a “worse level” given the focus on dangerous tackles was enhanced in the wake of forced retirements like Brayshaw because of concussion.

May is not the only player in recent weeks to have accentuated contact in a tackle and moved his head towards the ground in the hope of winning a free kick.

Buckley said the deterrent had to be stronger.

“Staging has been a part of the game. I reckon I’ve got two bad ones I can remember. One where I threw myself to the ground in the goal square and I felt terrible,” Buckley told SEN Breakfast.

Nathan Buckley and Steven May.
Nathan Buckley and Steven May.

“I can only imagine how Steven May is feeling right now, but that doesn’t escape the reality of what he chose to do.

“I actually think it’s on the worse level of staging for me because of what this rule is there to do. This rule is there to protect players, protect the head, it’s not there as just a rule of how we want the game to be played, it’s there for the protection of players.

“The fact that a teammate of May’s in Angus Brayshaw has left the game because of concussive effects and they hand out an award at the end of every game in respects to Brayshaw and that would be about courage and playing the game with the right demeanour.

“I think whatever the opposite of that is, I think that’s what Steven May did. I know he wouldn’t feel great about it and in 24 hours it will be gone.

“But I think anyone who accentuates head contact in a tackle and does it so blatantly like that, I think it should be a week.

“It should be elevated beyond a normal staging fine.”

May was penalised and given the maximum fine available under the AFL’s match review rules for “excessive exaggeration of contact in an unsportsmanlike manner”.