The mid-week review: Round 16

What got us talking: Exposed bolts at ANZ Stadium

Bolts are not something you hear often when talking about AFL. But last weekend, Hawthorn player Jarryd Roughead was left in pain after sliding onto some exposed bolts on the outer surface of ANZ stadium.

Lucky to walk away with only a ripped jumper and some red marks, Roughead was unimpressed with the state of the ground.

“You wouldn’t think there’d be some exposed bolts there during a game,” Roughead told Channel 7 after the match. “It didn’t feel nice and when you see them there it’s pretty dangerous I reckon.”

And he wasn’t the only one who thought this, with the AFL Players Association saying it was “completely unacceptable”.

“AFL players already expose themselves to significant risk when they run out to play each week without having issues like this with the stadium,” AFLPA’s general manager Ian Prendergast said. “It is particularly disappointing given the issues we’ve had with the venue previously.”

Yes, it isn’t the first time the ANZ ground has been called into question.

In 2011, metal turf pegs were found on the ground during a Sydney vs. Collingwood match. And whole pieces of turf have been ripped up in general play for a number of years.

AFL is a physical game. Players find themselves on the ground all the time. They should feel comfortable playing at a venue, knowing all has been done to protect them from getting injured. Metal pegs, bolts and moveable turf doesn’t give anyone piece of mind.

Last week’s incident reconfirms to everyone that ANZ Stadium is not a ground fit for AFL. The players and coaches don’t like it and neither do the fans. Up until this point in the 2015 season, the average ANZ Stadium attendance is just over 29,000 despite having a capacity of 83,500 people.

And New South Wales has another ground for AFL. The SCG has been used already five times this season, with a further three matches to come. While the capacity is only 46,000, the average crowd has been just over 31,000 people this season.

So with a ground of higher quality like the SCG available, it is evident ANZ Stadium just doesn’t measure up. In fact in November 2014, Sydney Football Club signed a 30-year contract to play all their home games at the SCG from 2017. But the Swans are still contracted to play at least one final there this year as well as some of the 2016 season.

So as much as supporters would love to see AFL games at ANZ a thing of the past, we’ll have put up with it for a little while yet.

What we learnt from round 16

– Hawthorn is back to its destructive best

The Hawks have easily defeated their fellow premiership contenders, Fremantle and Sydney in the last two weeks. How clinical they were in these wins is terrifying to the rest of the competition.

– “Football was beautiful” on Sunday

Bob Murphy’s tweet couldn’t have been truer. The Showdown and Maddie’s Match both showed how rivalry could be put aside for a bigger picture.

– Essendon needs to find a ruckman – and fast

Yes, Told Goldstein absolutely dominated against the Bombers last week and made his claim for an All-Australian nod. But his effort only highlighted what Essendon is lacking. Surely playing any ruckman is better than none.

What we can expect from round 17

– West Coast to firm as premiership contenders

While the Swans are no easy competition, the Eagles form has been outstanding this season. Second in both points for and against, they attack and defend well. They’ll prove they’re the real deal on Sunday against the Swans.

– North Melbourne will show they can travel in Boomer’s 400th

After losing to last place Gold Coast up north a few weeks ago, the Kangaroos won’t let it happen again. Brent Harvey’s milestone will add some inspiration to help them get over the line.

– A Cloke-less forward line will leave the Pies exposed

For all his inaccuracy, Cloke is still Collingwood’s leading goal scorer. His presence and marking efficiency is a key part to the Pies game. With star Jamie Elliott also expected to miss, the Pies’ score line might not be enough.

(First published on Bound For Glory News on the 22nd July 2015)

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