Adam Goodes and the Swans team are a picture of dejection after losing to the Tigers. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Warne is wrong. Adam Goodes is not a stager, at least not on Saturday in the eyes of the AFL's match review panel, which gave the dual Brownlow medallist the all-clear.
But Goodes has received a stinging critique from former Hawthorn great Dermott Brereton, who is critical of what he perceives to be the veteran's lack of defensive pressure.
The AFL charged 27 players on Monday but Goodes was not one of them, avoiding a staging charge despite receiving widespread criticism, most notably from cricket great Warne, for his reaction to a collision with Richmond's Alex Rance.
Centre stage: The Adam Goodes incident with Richmond’s Alex Rance. Photo: Fox Footy
The ruling is consistent with the match review panel's attitude in this area, and it appears they are prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to any player in occurrences where it cannot be established that no contact was made.
Their attitude appears to be at odds with a directive given by the AFL Commission to the match review panel in the 2012 pre-season "to be more stringent on staging, with excessive exaggeration of contact in an unsportsmanlike manner to be a reportable offence in addition to feigning contact".
The panel had also not cited Geelong's Jimmy Bartel and North Melbourne's Lindsay Thomas for alleged diving last month.
The pair had come under fire for exaggerating contact to their back while leading for a mark, while Goodes has been scrutinised in recent days for falling to the ground after receiving contact from Rance.
Jarrad Waite is the only player this year to be slapped with a misconduct charge for staging after a tangle with Richmond's Jake King, who made contact with the Carlton forward's chest. Waite reacted by holding his mouth.
Although North Melbourne coach Brad Scott publicly rebuked Thomas for staging, Swans coach John Longmire would not reveal if he had spoken to Goodes about the issue.
"If I did I wouldn't be talking about it in front of the media," Longmire said. "I don't talk about what I talk about with the players in front of the media."
Longmire also refused to comment on whether he thought criticism of Goodes' alleged staging was unfair, saying his focus was on plotting Fremantle's downfall in Saturday's qualifying final.
Brereton, however, said Goodes was struggling with the defensive side of his game. He is averaging 1.4 tackles per game this year, his lowest season average since 2004 when clubs did not place as much emphasis on the skill.
"His good is really good, super, but for some reason he's eased off on the other side of his game," Brereton said on Melbourne radio station SEN.
"They've got footage of him where he's got to the tackle and slipped off the back of it whereas Adam Goodes of five years ago would have nailed that tackle and the bloke would have come off panting, puffing and saying 'Christ, I never want to be tackled by that big man again'."
Asked if he believed Goodes should play on next year, Brereton said: "If I was a teammate of his, I'd directly tell him some things have to change."
Longmire, however, said he was pleased with Goodes' form this year, which has reaped 24 goals from 17 games, despite having reservations at the start of the year over how Goodes would recover from a serious knee injury.
Longmire believes speed remains a weapon for the 34-year-old, and highlighted his running capacity to the Swans players last week during their review.
"I think his form has been pretty good in the back half of the year, I think he's played quite well," Longmire said.
"He's been kicking goals and generally been playing pretty well for us. I think his form's been pretty solid.
"Once we saw at the end of last year he didn't come back and then the start of this year, you're always a bit like 'how's he going to go, is he going to come back and make an impact?'
"Or if he comes back, how's he going to be?
"He's been able to come back into the team and get better every week, and it's actually got to the stage where he's played in the midfield a bit as well.
"To have the faith and trust for him to go into the midfield group is a good sign for him and hopefully he keeps going."