AFL legend Nick Riewoldt says Lachie NealeHis reputation could be tarnished among his peers if Gary Rohan avoids a suspension for a vexing incident between the two.
Neale and Rohan traded blows behind the game in a heated first quarter of Geelong’s thrilling victory over Brisbane Lions, with Neale going to the ground after a swinging right arm from Rohan.
In the aftermath of the incident, ground cameras caught Neale raising three fingers at Rohan, apparently suggesting that a three-week ban was heading for a strike.
Although Rohan was not reported by the referees, the incident is sure to be evaluated by AFL MRO Michael Christian.
Riewoldt has suggested Christian’s decision could prove crucial for Neale in the future.
“He’s in trouble now because he’s caught rubbing his jaw and saying you’ve got three weeks,” Riewoldt told Fox Footy.
“If (the MRO) turns around now and decides no, you’ve got it in your shoulder, what does that do to Lachie Neale’s reputation?”
Riewoldt’s point was echoed by AFL reporter Jon Ralph, who called Neale’s reaction a “smoking gun”.
“He can’t take this back now because he would be done with directing,” Ralph told Fox Footy.
“All of these preparation reports are basically about what happens when you try to get a player to report when they don’t deserve it.
“You have to say the football player code is officially dead.”
After the game, Geelong coach Chris Scott expressed confidence that Rohan would avoid a ban for the exchange.
“I thought Neale hit Gary in the chest and then Gary hit him in the chest,” he said.
“Neale did it (start), the vision is clear. I’m not saying he did the wrong thing, it’s footy.
“I saw what Gary did and I’m comfortable with it.”