Doubting Thomas slide unfounded

Lindsay Thomas looks on during a North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL training session at Aegis Park on April 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.
Lindsay Thomas looks on during a North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL training session at Aegis Park on April 26, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. Getty Images - Hamish Blair

THE throwing out of the rough conduct charge against North Melbourne's Lindsay Thomas was a win for common sense.

The damage his foot caused to the leg of Sydney youngster Gary Rohan when he slid into him at the SCG last Sunday was one of the most sickening things you will see on a footy field - probably up there with a Collingwood premiership lap of honour.

But, it was an accident, albeit a horrible one that, no matter what the AFL does to try and avoid them, will always be a part of the game. And fortunately the AFL Tribunal agreed on Tuesday night when the Kangaroos contested the two-match ban handed out to their livewire forward by the Match Review Panel.

A year ago Thomas would not even have had a case to answer, but fearing serious injuries to players, the AFL decided to crackdown on the slide in 2012 and distributed a DVD at the start of the season to clubs with an example of 'what not to do'.

But, as he told the tribunal, Thomas clearly had intent for the ball, and it was only due to the slippery conditions he slid into Rohan with such force it caused the promising Swan's lower right tibia to turn at a right angle - a disturbing image replayed again and again on television.

Field umpire Andrew Mitchell actually awarded a free kick against Rohan at the time of the incident for in the back as he had been second to the ball, another fact, along with the wet surface, that allowed Thomas the benefit of the doubt.

Being first to the contest, he did what players are taught as juniors - get yourself between the ball and your opponent, and get in low so as to avoid being easily bumped away when body contact comes.

Thomas' other option would have been to bend over as he arrived and go in head first to pick up the pill. With Rohan coming in from directly in front, Thomas probably still would've gotten a free kick for high contact, but also possibly concussion or worse.

By coincidence, Swans great Adam Goodes was suspended for one match the previous week after performing the kind of slide the AFL has real concerns with - knees first, second man in.

Opinion has been divided on the slide, but at least there has been two examples in two weeks that better illustrate to players, coaches and public what may be deemed acceptable and what won't - even if Goodes' act did not cause even the slightest injury to his opponent, let alone one so shocking the victim may never even fully recover from.

Free to play against the Gold Coast tomorrow night, Thomas was relieved but hardly jumping for joy when he left the tribunal hearing, thoughts obviously with Rohan, who had surgery this week to fix the compound fractures of the lower tibia.

"I rang him up yesterday and left a brief message on his phone, just to see how he was going and wished him all the best in his recovery," a sombre Thomas told the media. While also describing his son's injury as "gut-wrenching", Rohan's father, Jim, summed it up: "I think it's just part of footy".

As hard as the AFL tries to reduce their occurrence, unfortunately broken legs and other serious injuries are part of footy. It's not just a contact sport, but a fast-moving, highly physical and aggressive one. Players aren't throwing as many fists as they used to - the AFL has seen to that - but will always throw themselves into all manner of contests, and from any angle.

In recent years, most serious injuries like broken legs, have occurred after those 'big men have flown' in a marking contest and landed awkwardly.

It happened to Brisbane great Michael Voss in 1998, while Port's Robbie Gray hyper extended his knee while landing after a two-on-two marking contest last week, in similar fashion to the way Melbourne's James Strauss snapped his leg last season.

Former Richmond forward Nathan Brown suffered a similar break to Rohan in 2005 because of an opposition player leaping across his leg as he tried to smother his kick.

Then there's 'friendly fire'. Rhys Palmer crashed into an unsuspecting teammate Michael Barlow at Fremantle a couple of years causing him to miss 12 months of footy with a broken leg.

Despite what some rugby league lovers believe, it can be a bloody brutal game Aussie rules.

Topics:  afl

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Mixed shops 'the way ahead'

Acres./ Noosaville.
Photo Geoff Potter / Noosa News

Council sees mixed use as retailing future

Hopes raised for course to reopen

NEW HOPE: The ladies of the now closed Peregian Springs Golf Club who want to be playing again may get their way.

Peregian Springs Golf Club may reopen

Local Partners

Major refresh of Sunshine Coast cinema now under way

GET READY: Catherine Joseph says you'll love the new-look cinemas at Maroochydore Birch, Carroll and Coyle.

Who doesn't want those dated carpets replaced?

Selma Blair blames flight outburst on 'psychotic blackout'

Selma Blair

"I am someone who should never drink, and I rarely do"

Exhibition vividly depicts connection with the environment

Ripples In The Creek Bed.

Connected is a new exhibition coming to the Cooroy Butter Factory.

Bob Dylan acknowledges Nobel Prize win

Bob Dylan has finally acknowledged his Nobel Prize win

In Hearts Wake announces intimate-gigs tour

In Hearts Wake will play the Sunshine Coast.

Tour marks end of Duality album cycle for In Hearts Wake.

WATCH: Trailer for Jackman's final Wolverine film released

First trailer for the last Wolverine film with Hugh Jackman.

Thrilling trailer promises a dark, dystopian finale for Wolverine

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Give me shelter - but perhaps not in this park

Some regular users of Cotton Tree Park have bagged the new shelter sheds, saying the roofs are too high to provide adequate protection from the sun and rain.

Users say no cover in new shelters

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge