Bombers coach defends Lloyd over ban - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers coach defends Lloyd over ban

By Roger Vaughan 31/08/2009 09:13:13 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights has vigorously defended captain Matthew Lloyd, saying he is "far from a sniper" in the AFL.

Knights also said the Bombers are yet to decide whether to contest the suspensions slapped on Lloyd, Patrick Ryder and Sam Lonergan ahead of Friday's AAMI Stadium elimination final against Adelaide.

The Bombers have until 11am on Tuesday to decide whether to contest the cases later in the afternoon at the tribunal.

While the three cases are blows for Essendon, who are already outsiders for Friday night, Lloyd's massive bump on Hawks midfielder Brad Sewell also has sparked much controversy.

The incident in the third quarter sparked a melee and left Sewell with facial fractures, while Essendon went on to win a seal eighth spot for the finals.

On Monday morning, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson voluntarily went on Melbourne radio to apologise for his actions immediately after Saturday's game at the MCG.

He also expressed regret for the comments that hard-nosed Hawthorn defender Campbell Brown made in the rooms post-match.

Brown called Lloyd one of the biggest snipers in the game and Knights was the latest Essendon figure to take issue.

"Matthew Lloyd - premiership player, has played in front as a full-forward for ... the majority of his career," Knights said on Channel Ten's One Week At A Time.

"He's stood firm under high balls, very courageous, a much-decorated player.

"The reality is that Matthew Lloyd is far from a sniper, so we were really disappointed in that comment."

Brown's comments are the latest flashpoint in a feud with Lloyd that goes back several years.

An emotional Knights said soon after the Sewell bump on Saturday, Lloyd had won a free kick by playing in front.

"(He's) a much-loved champion at Essendon, a great leader, a great role model for young people," Knights said.

"So to hear that was very disappointing, but it's been done, we move on.

"We don't need an apology - we're all grown men."

As the players left the field on Saturday, Hawks football manager Mark Evans had to restrain Clarkson, who started abusing Essendon players.

Clarkson had only just seen the extent of the injuries to Sewell and ruckman Max Bailey, who will need his third knee reconstruction.

On Monday morning, Clarkson called himself "a peanut" for letting his passion boil over.

The Sewell bump cost Lloyd a massive six-week suspension for rough conduct, although he can reduce that to a four-week ban with an early plea.

Ryder and Lonergan can accept one-match bans for striking Luke Hodge in separate incidents, but risk two-game suspensions if they go to the tribunal.

"We're going to have a look at all those things tomorrow morning, we gathered a lot of information this afternoon," Knights said.

"I gave the players the afternoon off, so we're going to speak to them first thing in the morning and then decide what we do from there."

The match review panel laid 14 charges after the fiery Essendon-Hawthorn game, including 10 for melee involvement from the scuffle that followed the Lloyd-Sewell incident.

Hawk Chance Bateman also faces a one-game ban for striking Lloyd.

Knights said Lloyd's suspension will not be a factor in whether the Essendon captain keeps playing next year.

Lloyd is yet to confirm whether he will continue and Knights said they last spoke during the mid-season about the full-forward's future.

"That is irrelevant, from my perspective, (to) whether Matthew plays on or not,".

"If Matthew was to play on next year, it's about the whole year.

"I'm going to support him, whatever decision he makes."

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