Nick Riewoldt called it a “complete joke”.
Nick Riewoldt called it a “complete joke”.

‘Disgraceful’: AFL legend torched

AFL champion Nick Riewoldt has been blasted by footy commentator Caroline Wilson in a scathing two-minute spray on live TV.

Wilson on Monday night took aim at Riewoldt for the Saints champion's public criticism of umpire Shaun Ryan - the whistleblower who warned Giants star Adam Kennedy from attacking injured Lion Charlie Cameron during the Giants' semi-final win.

The veteran football journalist described the tactics of players deliberately targeting the injuries carried by rivals as "disgraceful" and applauded Ryan's stand to protect Cameron.

It came after Riewoldt on Monday morning told SEN Breakfast that the umpire's decision to make Cameron a protected species was "a complete joke".

"The law is wrong," Riewoldt said of the spirit of the game interpretation that spared Cameron's hyperextended elbow any further hostile attention.

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"Does that mean you're allowed to put a special coloured tape around it and go up to the umpire and say, 'Hey, just so you know, I've got a bit of a corky on this side of my body, so can you just make sure nobody goes after it please'.

"I hated seeing this on the weekend. I think this is a complete joke. It's a complete joke that the umpire would warn a player that you're not allowed to do that to another player."

Wilson however, took aim at Riewoldt and Channel 9 colleague Chris Judd during Monday night's episode of Footy Classified.

She also blasted the AFL for only coming to the whistleblower's defence on Monday afternoon - after Ryan had been criticised across every corner of the footy media landscape for almost 48 hours.

AFL footy boss Steve Hocking on Monday supported Ryan's decision to give Cameron special treatment.

"What a sad state of affairs when an umpire invokes the spirit of the game and is pilloried for it," Wilson said.

"What a sorry situation when coaches and former players look for the doomsday scenario. The lowest common denominator of human sporting behaviour in reporting good, sensible, honourable and practical umpiring.

"As if Charlie Cameron was not obviously hurt. As if players are going to deliberately make a habit of feigning injuries to be protected. Ryan did the right thing.

 

"A player is badly injured, he gets back on the ground, he is not fair game to be constantly niggled and pushed and tugged and if an umpire occasionally says we are going to invoke the spirit of the game, I don't think it's going to be a massive issue."

Cameron appeared to hyper-extend his elbow when his arm was caught awkwardly with teammate Lachie Neale just two minutes into the contest on Saturday night, but was able to play out the game after having the joint strapped during the first quarter.

However, eyebrows were raised when the umpires appeared to make Cameron a protected species as he gingerly nursed his arm, warning Kennedy in the second term for targeting the wounded X-factor.

 

Nick Riewoldt says injured players are fair game.
Nick Riewoldt says injured players are fair game.

"You've been warned. If you knock his arm it is against the spirit of the game. If you continually knock his arm I will pay a free kick," umpire Ryan could be heard saying.

It seemed to be double standards, with the Lions' Nick Robertson appearing to manhandle the Giants' Lachie Whitfield but escaping censure.

Whitfield didn't get special treatment despite nursing a sore back after earlier copping a knee from Lions forward Eric Hipwood in a contest.

Experts weren't happy with the precedent set by Ryan on Saturday night.

"This isn't excessive or extraordinary (contact from Kennedy). This is a final for God's sake, what is that umpire talking about?," former Melbourne great Garry Lyon told Fox Footy.

"Moments after (the warning) Cameron comes charging through in a 50-50 contest and sets up a goal.

"That is nonsense from the umpire."

Richmond great Matthew Richardson told the Seven Network: "It's not tiddlywinks. "The umpire doesn't even need to be involved in that though. Just get involved if there's a clear free kick. Otherwise, just stay out of it."