Free kick count ‘alarming’: Worsfold
ESSENDON coach John Worsfold will seek answers to his side’s “alarming” free kick disparity during a sitdown with AFL umpires chief Hayden Kennedy.
Sunday’s 16-point loss to Collingwood, in which the Magpies received 27 free kicks to Essendon’s 17, was the third straight game where the Bombers were on the wrong side of the ledger with umpires.
The Bombers have the second-worst free kick differential this season behind Richmond, while Collingwood have had the most favourable run.
Worsfold will meet with Kennedy later this week to discuss the situation ahead of a trip to the Gold Coast to face the Suns on Saturday night.
“It’d be fair to say that I want general clarity,” Worsfold told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’re down 35 free kicks in three weeks, which is now quite alarming. That doesn’t mean anyone’s made any mistakes, other than maybe it’s some of our technical stuff or our understanding of it. So we need to get clear on that.”
Umpires were hot on players holding the ball during round 16 and the Bombers were on the wrong end of several confusing decisions surrounding prior opportunity.
Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield and Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones on Monday called for greater clarity on the rule but Worsfold wasn’t holding his breath.
“I always think that prior opportunity’s the hardest one,” Worsfold said.
“We look at examples of it every pre-season where the umpires say ‘what do you think?’ and out of 18 coaches, you get half saying ‘no prior’ and half saying ‘he had prior’. And that’s what you get four or five times over.
“It’s probably one where the AFL have got to (ask) is there ever going to be a good definition of what prior opportunity is, and if there’s not, maybe it’s dropping the ball or it’s not (penalised).”
A top-eight finish appears increasingly unlikely for the 12th-placed Bombers but victory over the 17th-placed Suns would at least keep them a mathematical chance.
Worsfold said injured spearhead Joe Daniher (groin) remained a chance to return this season.
Orazio Fantasia withdrew from the Collingwood game with a groin complaint but has not been ruled out for Saturday night’s clash.
Aaron Francis, Darcy Parish and Matt Dea are other options to replace injured duo Jake Stringer and Patrick Ambrose.
© AAP 2018