AFL Heroes & Villains Round 2: Players come together to tackle racism

After a near three-month hiatus, the AFL is back!

Round 2 offered up an unbelievable draw, some questionable umpiring decisions and a wonderful act of solidarity.

So without further ado, here are this week's heroes and villains.


The anti-racism movement: How good was it to see every player taking a knee to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement? Full credit to the AFL, the clubs and every single player for dropping on one knee before the first bounce and raising much needed awareness for world racism.

The month of June has shone a light on the seriousness of the issue and for all players to come together is a spectacular sign of how far things have come.

While we're on the subject of #BlackLivesMatter, a special shoutout to Essendon supporter Todd Davey who purchased two Fremantle memberships after the existing holder renounced his membership, as he did not agree with the club's stand against racism. Top work, Todd!

Super Suns: Hands up who saw that coming?! Stewart Dew and his troops deserve a standing ovation for an utterly dominant performance against one of 2020's premiership favourites. The Suns crushed the Eagles by 44 points at Metricon Stadium to snap a 19-game losing streak dating over 12 months.

The most pleasing part of the win, from a Suns perspective, was how some of the club's young guns led the charge. No. 1 draft pick Matt Rowell starred on Saturday evening, picking up 26 disposals, laying seven tackles and kicking a great on-the-run goal in what was a best-on-ground performance. Not bad for game No. 2! Fellow rookie Noah Anderson also impressed with 19 disposals and a goal of his own.

Gold Coast has a habit of starting seasons relatively well before falling away, so the shortened 2020 campaign could be a blessing in disguise for the club. All of a sudden, the Crows, Dockers and Blues will be a little nervous about picking up the wooden spoon.

All things considered, it was a great weekend for Queensland footy. The Lions also earned four points with a win over an inspired Dockers outfit.

Joel Selwood: He's one of the modern day greats but even the most passionate Cats fan would admit Joel Selwood isn't quite the player he once was. The Geelong skipper certainly hasn't lost any of his toughness, however stamping himself on a contest hasn't been a regular occurrence of late.

But on Friday night Selwood wound back the clock with a sensational 28 disposal (17 contested), eight clearance and one goal performance as Geelong ran rampant over the Hawks at GMHBA Stadium. It was vintage Selwood and the type of game Geelong fans have been craving for several years.

Selwood no doubt welcomed the three month break with open arms and like the Suns (mentioned above) is the type of bash-and-crash player who could very well benefit from a shortened season.

If the Cats are to feature at the pointy end of the year, Selwood is going to have to play a major role and take some of the burden off Patrick Dangerfield. He showed against Hawthorn he is still well and truly capable of doing just that.


The score review system: Uh oh, one game into the season's resumption and already we're bemoaning the score review system. Bizarrely, when Jack Higgins marked the ball close to the goal line in Thursday night's draw between the Pies and Tigers (by the way, what is it with Higgins, the Pies and controversial goal line reviews?), the score review officer (umpire? maestro?) must have had a camera angle the viewer couldn't see, as he said the ball was definitely marked on the line, despite no actual video evidence showing that.

It was also clearly evident the fat part of the post padding was obscuring the view of the goal line camera, and the mark should only count if the ball is still over the line, not in line with the padding. Put simply, there was not enough evidence to overturn the goal umpire's original decision of a behind, and who knows, perhaps the result might have might have been different in such a low-scoring affair...

The Teague Train: If in the back end of 2019, the Teague Train was a runaway steam freighter, the early 2020 version is that same, laboriously heavy freighter trying desperately to get out of the station, steam billowing but with the wheels barely moving. In more human terms, his team can't get out of the blocks and it's killing Carlton's season.

Against the Tigers in Round 1 the Blues gave up the first five goals of the match before barnstorming their way back into the match, while against the Dees on Saturday, it was an eerily similar slow start. Carlton allowed Melbourne the first seven goals of the match before kicking seven of the next eight to fall one point short. So slow were the Blues that they couldn't manage an inside 50 until there were just a couple of minutes left in the first quarter. Something needs to change at Ikon Park, and quickly.

Michael Christian: Umm, was Match Review Officer Michael Christian looking at the same vision we all saw? On Friday night, Hawks veteran Shaun Burgoyne slung Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield headfirst into the turf, in what was clearly a illegal and dangerous tackle. But on Saturday morning it was revealed Burgoyne would have to pay just a $1000 fine for his actions.

Putting aside the embarrassing commentary from the Channel 7 boys club on the night, whereby they made every excuse in the book as to why it was fine, the action could have had much bigger consequences. For a league intent on mitigating the risk of concussion and CTE, they need to come down harder on sling tackles.

Compare the pair:

For accidental incidents like collisions and bumps, it seems fair to judge on the outcome and not the action, but in the case of deliberate acts, such as sling tackles, it's time to punish the action and not the outcome. Burgoyne should have been handed two weeks - intentional (because you can't carelessly sling tackle someone), high contact, medium impact, just like Carlton's Will Setterfield copped for an almost identical tackle last year.