Respected AFL journalist Damian Barrett has applied the blowtorch to Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley following his protocol breach on Friday.
Buckley and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson played tennis with two people from outside of Collingwood’s bubble, one being former tennis star Alicia Molik.
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The club self-reported the breach which resulted in a $50,000 fine being handed down by the AFL, with $25,000 suspended. It became the fifth breach by a Victorian club.
Buckley came under fire on Sunday morning when his breach and the subsequent club fine was brought up on Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show.
“I wasn’t surprised when those other fines came up, but I’ve got to say I was absolutely gobsmacked when I found out that Nathan Buckley had transgressed,” Tony Jones said.
“Nathan Buckley, I’m not going to say puts himself on a pedestal of social consciousness or social commentary, but if you go back to January when he sort of put the Prime Minister on notice during the bushfires.
“Now those words ring true in a lot of ways because he has put his hand up and accepting the hurt and all the rest of it, but if you’re going to pontificate then you’ve got to stay within the rules yourself, don’t you. And that’s why I’m so surprised that Nathan Buckley of all people has transgressed.”
Barrett however believes the right thing for Buckley to do following the breach would be to step aside for Sunday’s game against Fremantle.
“I honestly believe he should consider standing down from coaching his team tonight against the Dockers in Perth,” Barrett said.
“He’s been quarantined away from the football club anyway while he’s dealing with a test that had to be taken because he played with someone outside of the confines of his football club.
“You line up the transgression with what his own president Eddie McGuire said, basically on the day of the infringement when it came to Buckley and Sanderson playing tennis. This is Eddie McGuire on Fox Footy Friday night, having a view on what should happen to people within the AFL system who transgress in such a manner.”
“I think the people who breach the protocols should be fined personally, to be honest.
“You can get to the clubs in due course, I think the AFL’s set it out, but I think it’s got to be a personal fine.
“I think the point Gill McLachlan made during the week is 100 per cent right — we make a rule to keep the game going. From here until the Grand Final, there’s still about $250 million worth to be left on the table if this ends. It’d be a disaster, imagine if we don’t get to finish off the finals series now.
“That rule book is not how do we get around every rule, that’s the rule book you live by. And if you don’t like it, we’ll arrange for you to go home. I think that’s fair and reasonable.”
“So you just insert Nathan Buckley and Brenton Sanderson into what Eddie said there and we’re clear now on what Eddie thinks should happen to such a situation,” Barrett added.
“The apologies are fine and look Nathan Buckley is a really good person and his apology was genuine don’t get me wrong, but the messaging isn’t getting through. That’s the fifth club that’s done something in the past week which is putting in jeopardy the entire AFL season.
“I think sending the strongest message would come in the form of consideration at least to not coaching tonight.”
As the panel continued to discuss the pressure Buckley would be feeling following the breach, a heated exchange unfolded between Tony Jones and Billy Brownless.
Billy Brownless: “They’ll get around him, the players will get around him. They love Bucks, they’ll get around him”.
Tony Jones: “But Billy that’s fine mate, but he stuffed up.”
B.B: “He did and he’s put his hand up. We all stuff up.”
T.J: “You could be the best bloke in the world mate but you’ve stuffed up and you’ve just cost your club a lot of money.”
B.B: “We’re all allowed one chance in life mate.”
T.J: “You’re what?”
B.B: “We’re allowed one chance in life.”
T.J: “Not when the competition is hanging by a thread.”
B.B: “He’s put his hand up, he’s going to pay the fine himself. The great thing with footy clubs is you get around and you support each other.”
T.J: “Bill you can’t play the good bloke card every time all right.”