Martin among victims of crackdown on umpire contact

Dustin Martin has become a victim of an AFL crackdown on umpire contact, one of five players fined by match review officer Michael Christian for making careless contact with officials.

Christian revealed on Monday that the league had written to clubs earlier in April, concerned with a high incidence of players colliding with umpires.

Brownlow medallist Martin can accept a $1000 fine for making careless contact with umpire Curtis Deboy in Richmond’s win over Collingwood on Sunday. North Melbourne’s Ben Cunnington, Port Adelaide’s Steven Motlop, Gold Coast’s David Swallow and Adelaide’s Matt Crouch have also been offered fines for making contact with umpires over the weekend.

Fined: Dustin Martin.

Hawthorn’s James Cousins was fined last round for a similar incident.

Careless contact with an umpire cannot lead to a suspension, however players face steeper fines for second and subsequent offences.

“I think it’s important to note that the AFL did sent a note around to clubs a couple of weeks ago just notifying clubs that we’re concerned about the number of players making contact with umpires,” Christian said on Monday.

Christian meanwhile defended the role of match day reports in the AFL after Geelong coach Chris Scott called for them to be scrapped.

"It serves no purpose at all," Scott said on Saturday, labelling match day reports "absurd".

"I think the umpires would say it gives them an element of control so if there is a melee they can say that they have reported the player which I think is highly questionable."

His comments came after Cat Jordan Murdoch was reported for engaging in rough conduct after bumping Sydney’s Isaac Heeney at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday. Murdoch was cleared by Christian on Monday after it was deemed that Murdoch was contesting the ball and had no realistic alternative. However Christian said match day reports still served a purpose.

“I think that’s a matter for the umpires and [AFL football operations manager] Steve Hocking in the end,” Christian said.

“I will say that from our perspective from the match review it’s always helpful to get the view from the umpire. And the other aspect to it is probably around controlling games. But certainly we find it in invaluable in terms of another set of eyes on a particular incident. Certainly taken into account in charges that are laid and incidents that are also assessed.

“In that type of situation where things can get out of control, I think once an umpire says to a player that he’s reported I think that helps quell any potential melee.”

While nowhere near as dramatic as last week’s findings, Christian was still busy on Monday, laying 16 charges.

However only two players face suspensions from the weekend’s games. Essendon ruckman Matthew Leuenberger has been offered a one-match ban for striking Melbourne big man Max Gawn at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Leuenberger’s action was assessed as intentional conduct with low impact to the head. Lion Nick Robertson can also accept a one-match sanction for striking Greater Western Sydney’s Harry Himmelberg.

Other players to be fined were Swans Kieren Jack and Ben Ronke, Cats Zach Tuohy and Tom Stewart, Kangaroo Todd Goldstein, Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch, Demon Bernie Vince and Eagles Luke Shuey and Chris Masten. The latter can accept a $1500 misconduct fine after driving his forearm into the face of Fremantle's Ed Langdon. Richmond captain Trent Cotchin was cleared for a careless tackle on Collingwood’s Jarryd Blair.

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