Adelaide captain Rory Sloane says the head clash between Patrick Dangerfield and Jake Kelly that has rocked the AFL was “just a part of footy”.
Geelong star Dangerfield will front the AFL tribunal on Tuesday evening charged with rough conduct after bumping Kelly in an incident that left the Crows player concussed and with a broken nose.
Dangerfield’s actions were assessed by match review officer Michael Christian as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact.
The experienced midfielder faces the prospect of being suspended for multiple matches, but Sloane said his close friend and former Adelaide teammate Dangerfield was “incredibly unlucky” that he clashed heads with Kelly.
“It’s a head clash. That’s completely accidental and it’s just part of footy really,” Sloane told Sportsday.
“You can’t control those and that’s something that I certainly feel for Patty for, that it’s completely incidental.
“He doesn’t mean to headbutt Jake in the head and unfortunately for Jake, Patty’s got quite a stiff head.
“He ran into a guy with a rock-hard melon. I’ve ran into that bloke, Danger, a couple of times and you certainly do come off second best normally.”
Dangerfield on Monday defended his actions in the moment, declaring he was protecting himself from the contact with Kelly.
The 30-year-old AFL Players Association president also noted the need for the game to look after players’ heads amid increased awareness of the possible fallout from concussion cases.
Pressed on whether actions like Dangerfield’s deserve to be penalised with a suspension, Sloane said: “I think you’re making too much of this really.
“That one was just completely unlucky. You could see Danger was hardly going for a bump. In the end it was just a head clash.”
Sloane is hopeful Kelly may be able to return in round three after sitting out the mandatory 12 days under the AFL’s new concussion protocols.
“I think he’s still a little bit groggy,” Sloane said.
“Hopefully he pulls up well and we get him right for – I don’t think this week – but maybe the weekend after.”