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Hall's punch may have been fatal: Swans

By Robert Grant 19/04/2008 03:29:13 PM Comments (0)

The Sydney Swans have admitted Barry Hall's punch on Eagle Brent Staker could have proved fatal.

Swans football manager Andrew Ireland said the hit might well have been devastating, given Hall's size.

He pointed to the blow which led to the death of Australian cricketer David Hookes in 2004 and the incident in 1972 involving Collingwood player John Greening, who was knocked out by St Kilda's Jim O'Dea.

"I was around at the back end of John Greening and I know that he was a very, very sick boy in hospital the night that it happened to him and there was a chance he might not get through the night," Ireland, a former Collingwood player, told radio SEN.

"One of the things from Barry's point of view as well he's just got to be careful about - he's a big, strong man and those sort of things you just never know.

"It's about where the punch lands sometimes and I'm sure there's people who have been unlucky that end up on the very bad side of it when those things go wrong."

Hall, a trained boxer, was suspended by the AFL Tribunal for seven weeks on a striking charge, but is expected to be out for longer than that after breaking his wrist during the game last Saturday.

Staker suffered concussion and will miss Sunday's clash against Port Adelaide at Subiaco.

Grant Thomas, who coached Hall briefly in 2001 before the forward moved to Sydney, said his decision to leave Melbourne removed him from an environment which would have ended his AFL career.

"Barry had a lot on his mind and a lot of influences that were affecting his performances and the decisions he made in life," Thomas said.

"When he came to me and said that he wanted to go to Sydney I knew that, while it was a truckload of money that we couldn't match, it was just a more sincere reason than that.

"And I could see it in his disposition and I could see it in his eyes, that he actually didn't think he could cope with staying in Melbourne with the infrastructure he had around him.

"He was really struggling and I'm actually not certain where he would have been if had remained here," he said.

"I'm aware of all the issues and I've got the utmost respect for him and I would have loved to have kept him as a Saints player but the facts are it would have been nigh on impossible to do that.

"I don't believe he'd still be playing AFL football if he was still in Melbourne," Thomas said.

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