Ouch: Jarryd Roughead holds his back after being pushed by Dane Rampe after kicking a goal. Photo: Matt KingThe AFL has launched an investigation into player safety at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium after Hawthorn forward Jarryd Roughead had his jumper torn by bolts on Saturday night.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson urged the AFL to give serious consideration to moving matches away from the embattled venue while former Geelong premiership star Cameron Ling said the incident was “just not acceptable at all”.
ANZ Stadium issued a statement on Saturday night saying it would work with the AFL in an investigation into the matter. “Stadium officials are working with the AFL to investigate this matter,” the stadium said in a statement.
Roughead was fortunate to escape injury after crashing into a fence behind the goals and having his jumper torn by four exposed bolts in the gutter in the third quarter. The bolts were later covered by a mat.
ANZ Stadium said “the bolts are used to secure an emergency fire extinguisher at the southern end of the arena and sit behind the fenceline for all events other than for AFL games”.
“When the fenceline was moved back to accommodate the required five-metre zone behind the goals for this game, the holding bolts were exposed,” the stadium said.
Saturday night’s match was the ground’s last home and away match for the season but with Sydney in the top four there is a strong chance it will host a final in September.
The Swans are contracted to play at ANZ Stadium until the end of 2016 but are open to finishing the deal early.
Clarkson said it was “enormously difficult” to have the venue, which hosted a rugby league match on Friday night, turned into an AFL ground in such a short time.
While Clarkson said he did not mind Hawthorn playing at ANZ Stadium, his preference would be for all of the Swans’ home games to be played at the SCG.
“The AFL do an outstanding job in terms of making sure the ground is as good as it can possibly be but this venue has got its challenges,” Clarkson said.
“Playing rugby league the night before and you’ve got to replace grass, pull back stands, it’s hardly the ideal preparation for a top level clash between two really, really good sides.
“There will always be a significant challenge with this venue. It’s the only venue in the league that has to prepare for two different codes in two days and it just makes it really, really difficult.
“I suppose that’s why everyone’s preference is the SCG rather than this oval when it comes to playing in Sydney.”
While the MCG played host to a soccer game on Saturday night and will stage the Melbourne-Brisbane clash on Sunday, it does not have to be reconfigured in the same way as ANZ Stadium, which requires seating to be pulled back.
Former Geelong captain Cameron Ling slammed the venue for leaving exposed bolts.
“It’s too dangerous for any of the players with what we saw with Jarryd Roughead,” Ling, working as a boundary rider for Channel Seven, said.
“The last thing we want is a player getting hurt seriously doing that because it’s just not acceptable at all.”
Swans coach John Longmire did not see Roughead have his jumper torn by the bolts but said “it sounds terrible if that’s the case”.
ANZ Stadium said “any risk to player safety is clearly unacceptable and is taken very seriously by Stadium management”.
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