Best On Ground: Do star players need umpire protection?

Is this your couch every night of the week now footy's all over the TV? No? Just mine, then.
Is this your couch every night of the week now footy's all over the TV? No? Just mine, then.

We're right in the middle of the AFL's 33 games in 20 days and it's been a welcome addition to have footy on every night of the week. I'm sure you agree.

Let's get on to some of footy's hottest issues.

Debate is raging in AFL circles about the problem of star players being physically targeted in matches in an attempt to quell their influence.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, speaking after the Demons' 51-point triumph over Adelaide on Wednesday, called for more umpire protection of star ruckman Max Gawn.

Goodwin said opposition players often illegally stopped Gawn getting to contests.

"He gets a lot of attention, Max, and we continually speak to the various powers that be about the attention he gets. He gets clearly targeted around just getting to a stoppage hopefully we will start to get some protection at some stage," Goodwin said.

"It happens every week.

"He is a target for most teams. He is an outstanding player, he is a great leader, but at some stage hopefully that will come to an end and we can get on with playing some great footy and protect some of our important players in the league that showcase our game.

"It's really important they get a chance to do that."

The call for protection came after Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps, who is universally admired as one of the AFL's best, was targeted by North Melbourne a fortnight ago.

Pressure is mounting on umpires to be more consistent in decision making and protecting star players from unnecessary physicality is sure to pop up again following Goodwin's comments.

Are star players protected enough? Or is physicality part of the sport and do they need to just get on with it?

Regardless, let's hope there are some cracking fixtures this weekend and we can all set in for a quality weekend of footy. Enjoy the ride!

*This edition of Best On Ground was written by Warrnambool Standard journalist Nick Ansell.

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This story Do star players need umpire protection? first appeared on The Standard.