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In today’s AFL Briefing, your daily wrap of footy news:
- Melbourne’s Lachy Hunter has been fined for a cheeky boundary-line incident.
- Essendon coach Brad Scott says his team is looking forward to the challenge of quelling Dustin Martin.
- GWS captain Toby is set to return to face St Kilda, while the Saints also look likely to add firepower with Max King nearing his comeback.
- Port Adelaide’s Charlie Dixon is pushing for selection to face the Demons.
- Essendon has extended young midfielder Ben Hobbs’ contract by two years.
‘Unsportsmanlike’ conduct: Hunter fined for bizarre act
Melbourne wingman Lachie Hunter has been fined for unsportsmanlike conduct after a bizarre incident on the interchange bench in the Demons’ game against Hawthorn last week.
In the latest case of peculiar player behaviour to be sanctioned by the AFL, Hunter was docked $1500 after rushing from the bench to gesture to Hawthorn youngster Josh Weddle, who was running the ball out of defence.
Though Weddle, an 18-year-old playing in his third game, did not appear to react to Hunter, his long kick to an outnumbered teammate led to a turnover. The incident happened with the Demons 33 points in front in the second quarter.
It prompted the AFL to write to the clubs, reminding them such actions by players in the interchange area are not appropriate, the league said.
“During the second quarter, Hunter left the Melbourne interchange area and approached the boundary line outside of the interchange gates, near where a Hawthorn player took possession of the football, where he gestured towards that player,” the AFL said in a statement.
“Melbourne and Hunter were issued a please explain, with the AFL determining Hunter’s actions constituted unsportsmanlike behaviour. Melbourne and Hunter have accepted the AFL’s sanction.”
The Hunter incident comes after Carlton star Patrick Cripps and Collingwood defender Nathan Murphy were both fined $1000 for misconduct last week.
Cripps’ charge came after he tugged at Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith’s mullet, while Murphy was sanctioned for dacking Greater Western Sydney’s Aaron Cadman, exposing the No.1 draft pick’s buttocks.
North Melbourne star Jy Simpkin accepted a $1000 fine after throwing away the GPS tracker in St Kilda youngster Mattaes Phillipou’s jumper.
Return of the King?
Two training sessions are all that stands in between St Kilda spearhead Max King and his hotly-anticipated first appearance of the AFL season.
King booted 52 goals in 2022 but is yet to play this year after requiring a pre-season shoulder reconstruction, then suffering a hamstring injury during his recovery.
But Saints coach Ross Lyon has all but given the green light for the 22-year-old to face GWS at Giants Stadium on Sunday after Tim Membrey staggered off the field with a concussion against Adelaide.
“He needs to train today. He needs to complete Friday and then, with Tim Membrey in concussion protocol, he’ll be selected,” Lyon said.
“He was so close last week but there were just a couple of things going against him.”
Max King is knocking on the door of selection.Credit: Getty Images
The Saints coach expressed no concern over King’s lack of high-level match practice or any pressure on the 202cm player to live up to those before him.
“As he goes in an uninterrupted week, he’ll feel good,” Lyon said.
Skipper Jack Steele (knee) will need to complete two training sessions to prove his fitness.
“We certainly wouldn’t risk the team with anyone that’s not 100 per cent fit,” Lyon said.
But defender Jimmy Webster could be in line for a call up after producing a solid performance at VFL level on his return from a fractured cheekbone.
“He played exceptionally well,” Lyon said.
“His run and his speed – he played like a senior player at Sandringham. So he puts himself right up there for selection.“
Dons line up for Dusty duties
Essendon players are expected to line up for a crack at taming Richmond’s Dustin Martin as the Bombers attempt to beat the Tigers for the first time since 2014.
Martin was at his dynamic best in Richmond’s win over Geelong, booting four goals, and shapes as one of the keys to Saturday night’s Dreamtime at the ’G clash.
The Tigers have won their past 13 games against Essendon, who last prevailed in round 11 2014, with Martin regularly feasting on the Bombers.
Dustin Martin was superb against the Cats.Credit: AFL Photos
“Hopefully there are a number of guys who are putting their hand up for the opportunity,” coach Brad Scott told reporters on Wednesday.
“We’re embracing playing really good opponents. We’ve had really good opponents the last five or six weeks at least.
“The reality is every game is a tough game for us but playing the top five or six on the ladder has been a great opportunity and we’ve embraced that as a team and whoever gets to play on Dustin will embrace that opportunity as well.”
Defender Jake Kelly had loomed as one option on Martin when he swings forward but remains sidelined with concussion.
Dixon pushes to face Dees
Port Adelaide key forward Charlie Dixon is firming to return from injury for Friday night’s high-stakes AFL match against Melbourne.
Dixon missed the Power’s 70-point thrashing of North Melbourne because of a thigh injury.
But the spearhead is declaring his fitness for the Adelaide Oval fixture between coach Ken Hinkley’s fourth-placed side and the second-placed Demons.
“He’s tracking pretty well,” Hinkley told reporters on Wednesday.
Pushing for selection: Port Adelaide’s Charlie Dixon.Credit: Getty Images
“We’re optimistic around him being available for Friday night but we won’t know that until much, much closer to the game.
“He’s telling me he’s ready.
“Those players, they have got a lot of trust and you give them responsibility. Charlie knows himself better than any of us.
“But we wouldn’t play him if it’s going to make it worse, it’s too early in the year, it’s round 10, we’re not going to take a risk.“
Dixon’s fellow forward Todd Marshall will miss the game after suffering his second concussion in the past month.
Hobbs signs on at Dons
Young midfielder Ben Hobbs has extended his time at Essendon until at least the end of of 2025 with a new two-year contract, the club announced on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old was the Bombers’ top pick in the 2021 draft, taken with pick 13.
“I’ve loved my time at Essendon and feel honoured every time I wear the red and black jumper with our proud and cherished history,” Hobbs said.
Green set to take on Saints
AFL superstar Toby Greene will almost certainly return to boost GWS as coach Adam Kingsley declared finals are still firmly on the Giants’ radar.
Greene has missed GWS’ last two matches — defeats to premiership contenders Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs — with an ankle injury.
The Giants captain was initially named to face the Magpies but was ruled out two days before the eventual 65-point loss at the MCG.
Greene hurt himself during his match-winning performance in the Giants’ memorable one-point victory over crosstown rivals Sydney in round seven.
GWS skipper Toby Greene is set to return.Credit: Getty Images
GWS will face St Kilda on Sunday for their first game at Giants Stadium since round three as the Saints seek to rebound from a surprise smashing in Adelaide.
“(Greene) was really close on Sunday (against Collingwood), but he still has to get through training (this week),” Kingsley said on Wednesday.
“The signs right now look good … I’m not going to pre-empt that he’s definitely playing but it looks more likely than that last week anyway, and he was really close last then.”
On the prospect of his 15-th placed side featuring in September action, Kingsley said: “I still think we can play finals, even if we don’t get the result this weekend, but we’ve got a lot of work to do and that’s that’s where our focus lies.”
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