Paul Chapman grapples with Liam Picken. Photo: Channel Ten
Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney believes tagger Liam Picken deserves to be commended, not condemned, for his conduct last Sunday.
Picken found himself in the headlines this week after North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey lashed out at the 28-year-old, pinning him to the ground with a forearm to the throat.
Harvey was given a three-match ban, having unsuccessfully argued at the AFL Tribunal that he was trying to stand up while Picken held him down.
The scrap has triggered predictable calls for playmakers to be better protected by umpires, and moral outrage from pundits over the merits of tagging.
Picken has become the villainous face of the issue, a role given to Ryan Crowley and Brent Macaffer earlier this year.
"You won't get a bad word out of me about Liam Picken, we respect him enormously," McCartney said on Thursday.
"He did his job for the team. Played to his strengths and unfortunately an incident arose.
"I actually really want to commend him for his manliness (for not retaliating against Harvey).
"If he had got up and done what a lot of us with a short temper would do, well, it would have been a bigger issue.
"He conducted himself pretty well."
McCartney revealed the Bulldogs counselled Picken on his shutdown tactics earlier this season.
"He dealt with it," he said.
McCartney added that Picken acted within the laws of the game in the Dogs' 50-point loss.
"If he was doing something so untoward, he would have got free-kicked," he said.
"And he didn't.
"If you hold on to someone and impede their progress, you should accept it's a free kick. We accept that.
"If he was doing it to that degree, he would have got more free kicks against him.
"And he didn't."