‘I hope he gets a heavy suspension’

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HAWTHORN Hawks hot-headed defender James Sicily faces another stint on the sidelines after being caught stepping on the leg of North Melbourne player Shaun Atley.

The AFL’s Match Review Officer Michael Christian charged Sicily with serious misconduct with the incident being sent straight to the tribunal.

This is now the second time Sicily has caught the eye of Christian after he copped a one-week suspension for kneeing Geelong skipper Joel Selwood during round 2.

The news he had been sent directly to the caught many fans off guard, but once the vision was released it was hard to defend the Hawk.

AFL legend and Carlton premiership player Robert Walls was critical of Sicily and said he needs to clean up his act.

“The sort of thing that he did — just stepping on a player — there’s no need for that. It’s unnecessary,” Walls said on AFL Tonight.

“He loses respect as a footballer among his peers, in particular, for doing that sort of thing.

“I hope he can clean up his act, because he’s too good a player to let those stupid things get in the way.

“He’s a very talented player. He can play centre halfback or centre half-forward — he can play anywhere. But he’s a got a short fuse and too often he does the wrong thing.

“You can see the reaction of the North Melbourne player — you don’t expect an opponent to do that sort of thing,” Walls said.

“You’d rather be tackled fiercely and bumped hard, but you don’t stand on someone like that.”

Former North Melbourne now Port Adelaide player Lindsay Thomas was the second player sent directly to the tribunal after his hit on Scott Selwood, an incident that former Geelong captain Cameron Ling called a dog act.

Christian classified it as careless conduct with severe impact to the head.

“I should take the opportunity to emphasise that this wasn’t graded as intentional,” Christian explained.

“I think it’s really important to understand that you’re permitted under the rules of the game run past the ball, if it’s within five metres, and execute a bump.

“It’s part of the game, but when you elect to do that you must execute the bump fairly.

“(But) to say that someone intentionally set out to commit a reportable offence when you’re allowed to bump is a bridge way too far, so that’s why it was graded careless.

“Ordinarily it would have been high impact but with the potential to cause more serious injury we decided to upgrade it to severe.”

Walls was again critical of the incident and believes Thomas’ time in the league could be up in the air.

“I think he’s let Port Adelaide down, he’s let the game down, and he’s let his teammates down,” Walls said on AFL Tonight on Monday.

“He’s got to really consider whether he wants to go on, I think.

“He is a repeat offender; he’s done these sort of things over the years.

“I can’t understand why becomes he’s been given a lifeline by Port Adelaide.

“North Melbourne in the end were happy to see him go. He’s a talented player we know that, but he just lets himself down.

“I thought it was deliberate. I thought it was aggressive.

“I thought it was a cheap shot to be honest.

“I hope he gets a heavy suspension.

“At the age of 30 he goes to another club, it’s his first game for Port Adelaide and this happens.

“He just goes to the edge and over the edge too many times and in the end your teammates get sick of supporting a teammate that causes problems like that.”

Thomas has been sanctioned twice from the weekend and along with Geelong captain Joel Selwood faces a one-game ban, both for striking each other. The bans are among a busy 12 charges from the weekend’s games.

In other charges from the weekend’s action, Brownlow Medal favourite Tom Mitchell has escaped a ban for a hit on Todd Goldstein.

Mitchell can accept a $1500 fine for elbowing Kangaroos ruckman Todd Goldstein.

Hawthorn defender Ryan Burton was cleared for his bump on North star Shaun Higgins.

They accidentally clashed heads and Higgins was concussed as a result, but the decision to not suspend Burton also drew the ire of fans.

“Contact was made from Burton’s shoulder to the chest of Higgins,” Christian said.

“I think it’s really important to understand that he took reasonable care to execute the bump fairly.

“He couldn’t reasonably foresee that there was going to be an accidental clash of heads.

“It was unfortunate for Higgins, but I just want to emphasise that when we’re assessing incidents we look at the conduct first and foremost.”

— with AAP

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