Collingwood Magpies defender Jeremy Howe undergoes surgery; Geelong Cats Chris Scott unhappy with MCG surface after Ed Sheeran concerts; Melbourne Demons re-sign 28 AFLW players; Hunt for Gillon McLachlan’s replacement intensifies
“Jeremy is a respected leader of our program who really puts his body on the line – our priority is making sure his welfare is supported through his recovery and we will do that.”
The gruesome arm injury took place in the third quarter and was deemed graphic enough for Seven not to show replays of the contest, while several minutes of play were stopped for medical staff to attend to Howe.
Post-game Pies captain Darcy Moore was emotional as he paid tribute to Howe.
“Oh mate, it’s heartbreaking,” Moore told Seven.
“You go through so much together as AFL players and you know, you ride the highs and the lows, we are really close, you see one of your close teammates in a state like that, it’s pretty distressing and it’s pretty messed up.
“Then we then have to just forget about it and get on with the job. I’m getting a bit emotional just talking about it. But yeah, it’s a horrible part of our game. But we expect nothing less from Jeremy. He’s just an incredible teammate and puts his body on the line. I think that contest definitely showed that.”
Fellow Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard told ABC Sport the injury was devastating and wished his teammate well.
“For him to go down like that … I didn’t realise the extent of the injury but when I went over there I saw the bone out of the arm so it’s very disappointing,” Maynard said.
“I’m actually pretty devastated because he finds himself sometimes getting injured and having long stints out of the game and he’s such a vital player for us, so hopefully he’s back bigger and stronger.
“He came from about 40 metres deep and I was thinking, ‘What is this bloke doing?’ But that’s what we teach, that’s what we do.”
Howe is expected to spend several weeks on the sideline.
Wright to miss first half of season
Essendon key forward Peter Wright is expected to miss the first half of the season and will undergo surgery after dislocating his shoulder at training on Friday, the club confirmed on Saturday.
The last season club best and fairest had a scan on Friday afternoon, which resulted in the decision to have immediate surgery.
Essendon general manager of performance Daniel McPherson said the club was disappointed for Wright, and that they would take a conservative approach to his rehab.
“We’re really disappointed for Pete. He has had a terrific pre-season, and was in great shape leading into Sunday,” McPherson said.
“The results of yesterday’s scan indicate surgery is required to properly repair the injury.
“Pete is an incredibly important part of our future, so we’ll take the necessary time to get this right, and we’ll look forward to welcoming him back into the team in the second half of the season.”
Essendon play Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon in their first clash of the season.
Hunt for McLachlan’s replacement intensifies
The hunt for Gillon McLachlan’s successor as AFL chief executive has reached a significant juncture, with the first round of interviews completed on Saturday.
Andrew Dillon, the AFL’s senior counsel, McLachlan’s deputy and favourite to replace the outgoing boss, and Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale met with the adjudicating panel, of which AFL chairman Richard Goyder plays a key role.
AFL head of broadcasting and clubs Travis Auld and commercial boss Kylie Rogers were interviewed on Friday, league sources confirmed.
Industry sources say there are two other applicants, with Foxtel boss Patrick Delany linked to the role.
New York-based recruitment firm Spencer Stuart is advising the league on McLachlan’s replacement, but ultimately it’s a call for Goyder and the AFL commission.
There is still another round of interviews to be conducted.
McLachlan is due to step down in April but on Friday said a confirmed date had to be settled, indicating he will remain until a final call on whether Tasmania is awarded the league’s 19th licence is made. That may not be until mid-year, depending on whether the Albanese government delivers an additional $240 million in federal funding required to help pay for a new $741 million stadium.
“We are playing that out. I have talked to April. There is a Tasmanian piece, and a process playing right now to find my replacement. I have talked to this at length – I will do the job I was asked to do and when they have found the right replacement, at the right time I will leave,” McLachlan said on 3AW.
He said it was “very unlikely” he would still be in the role come the end of the season.
“Whatever the right time is for the commission. This process is getting to the end of its thing. I think everyone knows the AFL Commission is quite keen to finalise Tasmania and a couple of things. They will come together. I think it’s a mature approach,” McLachlan said.
McLachlan said he will take a break before deciding what his next career move is.
Scott unhappy with MCG surface
Geelong coach Chris Scott has criticised the Melbourne Cricket Club for staging two blockbuster Ed Sheeran concerts at the MCG so close to the start of the season.
Around 10,000 square metres of turf was laid at the venue on March 9 after the surface was damaged by the shows on Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour, which were attended by about 215,000 people less than a fortnight before round one. Trucks were used to set up Sheeran’s stage and matting was placed on the playing field to accommodate fans.
Players across the two games at the MCG had trouble keeping their feet on a surface which Scott said players had reported were of varying firmness.
Star defender Tom Stewart hurt his knee on the newly laid surface, while Carlton forward Harry McKay slipped late in the game on Thursday night against Richmond on the fresh turf.
Scott was initially reluctant to criticise the ground after his team started their premiership defence with a 22-point loss but could not hide his disappointment at the state of the field.
“I think it’s an interesting discussion for others to have,” Scott said. It’s distasteful when the coach of a losing team talks about the surface. It’s worthy of discussion.”
Pressed further on the matter, Scott described the decision to stage two concerts so close to round one as an “own goal”.
“I’m relaying this. I’ve got an opinion that I’ll keep to myself. The issue there is, there are differences on the ground now,” Scott said. “Some bits that are really firm, and you’ll keep your feet and other bits that are really soft, and you can’t keep your feet.
“The point that is raised, it’s not a criticism, it’s not my area, it’s been a long time since the grand final. It’s the biggest game in the land, it’s the best ground in the world in my view.
“To compromise the surface is a strange decision to make voluntarily. If stuff happens and the weather is beyond your control, fair enough, but it was an own goal, I reckon.”
Scott’s opposing number Craig McRae, who watched Sheeran play, said earlier this week he had no concerns over the standard of the surface.
Melbourne’s massive AFLW signing haul
Melbourne have announced a massive slew of re-signings, with 28 players committing to the club for the upcoming 2023 season.
The number includes 20 of the club’s 21 premiership players except for captain Daisy Pearce, who retired in January.
It’s the largest cohort of re-signings in AFLW sign and trade history, and follows the Brisbane Lions’ re-signing of 19 players last week.
No Melbourne players left during the AFLW priority signing period, which saw league best and fairest Emily Bates leave the Lions for Hawthorn, along with teammate Greta Bodey, and Collingwood fan-favourite Chloe Molloy head to Sydney.
Melbourne list manager Todd Patterson said the re-signings were indicative of the club’s positive environment spearhead by coach Mick Stinear.
“As a club, we’ve been blown away by the commitment shown from the playing group, particularly during the sign and trade and PSP periods,” Patterson said.
“It really is a testament to the culture that the coaches, led by Mick Stinear, the players and the staff have created, and we couldn’t be prouder.
“Every single member of the club has contributed to where we are today and helped shape the foundations of our football program, which we’re only looking to build on next season.
“We’re excited by this significant step and look forward to going to work later this year.”
The AFLW sign and trade period runs until March 20, with the supplemental draft to take place on April 4.
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