Collingwood coach Craig McRae says he will seek clarity from the AFL over the officiating of Jack Ginnivan after it was suggested the goalsneak was not paid some free kicks due to the controversy surrounding the 19-year-old’s playing style.
Ginnivan received two controversial free kicks in the first quarter – one for being held and another for a push in the back – kicking goals from both as the Pies eventually recorded a four-point win over Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday.
Some instances in the second half saw Ginnivan appear to be taken high by an opponent but he was not awarded free kicks, raising the question of whether Ginnivan’s reputation had worked against him rather than in his favour.
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Speaking post-game, McRae took issue with the notion Ginnivan exaggerates contact to draw free kicks.
“Playing for free kicks is an interesting way of putting it. I think players are really good at avoiding tackles and learning how to evade tackles and make it hard to be tackled,” he said.
“We tell our players to spend time over the ball, which means you’re likely going to get some front-on contact, but we want to keep the ball in front of us.
“Being tackled versus getting tackled, we practice that. I think it’s a skill. It forces the tackler to really be on his best game.
“Is it within the rules? There’s no rule against it at the minute.”
Asked if Ginnivan’s style of play could’ve been a factor in some free kicks not being awarded in the second half, McRae said it would be wrong if that were the case.
“Maybe I need to get some clarity because as far as I’m aware that’s (high contact) a free kick, so we’ll just get some clarity around that,” he said.
“But thinking you can’t get paid a free kick because we don’t like it that you’re getting free kicks, I’m not sure that’s the case. I’ll just get some clarity around that.”
Asked directly if he would seek clarification from the AFL, McRae replied: “I think so.”
“Particularly when you’re getting a ground ball and then taking on the tackle. Dusty does it with an arm, Joel Selwood has made a living out of it, I think it’s smart play.”
Ginnivan has kicked 21 goals from 10 games this season, rocketing into the limelight with a five-goal performance against Essendon on ANZAC Day that saw him awarded with the medal for best afield.
Speaking to foxfooty.com.au post-game, teammate and gun recruit Patrick Lipinski was of the belief Ginnivan has gotten under the skin of opposition sides to great effect.
“He’s a really handy football player. He converts his goals when he’s got opportunities. The opposition hate him, they’re always doing things to him, which is a bit disappointing, but we’ve got to stand up for him,” Lipinski said after racking up 29 disposals and kicking a goal against Hawthorn.
“He’s been awesome this season and he’s only 19, to have kicked 20-odd goals from 10 games is amazing as well. He’s been awesome and we’ve just got to keep supporting him moving forward.”
Asked if players seemed to be targeting Ginnivan more than other players, Lipinski replied: “It seems that way, but that’s alright, he’s getting a few free kicks out of it and he’s converting the goals.”
“They just don’t like him because he’s a good player at the end of the day. We love him on our team.”
Following McRae’s press conference, Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell was amused when informed of McRae’s desire to seek clarity from the week and was asked if he was comfortable with the tackling technique of his players.
“It is a difficult question to answer. Clever small forwards, a lot of them in their kitbag is the ability to draw a free kick,” he said.
“Paul Puopolo was a guy I played with for a long time that was a master of it. There’s a real art to it and if you’re going to be a small forward, having that in your kitbag is really helpful.
Ginnivan’s got a really good ability to genuinely draw a free kick and our players were very aware of that going into the game and I thought they handled those situations really well.”