Low blow: West Coast's Luke Shuey denies striking North's Lindsay Thomas in the groin.
NORTH Melbourne legend Glenn Archer says West Coast has broken the players' code by accusing Roos' forward Lindsay Thomas of staging as Eagles coach John Worsfold backed away from the controversial strategy yesterday, claiming he knew nothing of it.
Archer said he yearned for the times when players protected each other in front of the AFL's judiciary, adding that West Coast on-baller Luke Shuey could expect ''some heat'' next time the clubs faced off.
On Tuesday night, Shuey's advocate effectively tagged Thomas as a stager as the Eagle unsuccessfully fought a charge of elbowing Thomas in the genitals. Shuey, who has copped some criticism for simulation this year himself, lost the case and has been suspended for two matches over the Thomas incident last weekend.
North, which did not have Thomas at the tribunal hearing, was not impressed that its player was accused of wrongdoing, with football operations manager Donald McDonald saying it was ''not something we would do''.
Archer, the Shinboner of the Century, agreed. ''I think obviously Shuey's representative is doing everything in his power to get him off, but personally I think he went down the wrong line,'' Archer said.
''One thing with the tribunal that's disappointed me in the last five or six years is the old-school way of looking after your fellow player just doesn't seem to be there any more. At the end of the day, [as a player] you're all part of the same club. Whether it's the right thing or the wrong thing, I reckon every player should try to look after each other and a bit of 'what happens on the field, stays on the field' sort of thing.
''I've got no problem with advocates doing their best for the player they're representing, but you don't do that to the detriment of another player.''
Archer said Shuey had to take responsibility for the case that West Coast presented at the tribunal, during which Shuey's player advocate, David Grace, made several claims that Thomas had form as someone who feigned injury in order to win free kicks.
''He keeled over in front of the umpire in a way that suggested he was either winded or in pain,'' Grace told the tribunal. ''Within 10 seconds of this incident he's sprinting and showing absolutely no signs of a blow to the groin.''
Worsfold denied responsibility for Shuey's legal defence yesterday. ''That was our defensive counsel. So if you want to argue with him, take it up and he'll take it on,'' he said.
''I honestly don't know what the argument was that we went in [with] to try to get Luke off.''
But on a day when Kangaroos chairman James Brayshaw declined to comment, Archer said Shuey and his club should never have allowed such a line of argument to be made at the tribunal.
''As a player, he knows what evidence is going to be given. He probably should have stood up and said,
'Let's not go down that track'. It's a fraternity thing. You're all part of it.''
Asked if the situation would cause ill-feeling in the future, Archer said: ''Absolutely. It's human nature. The next time they [Kangaroos] come up against West Coast and Shuey, there's going to be some heat on him.''
Some at North were unimpressed with the Eagles, and Kangaroos officials went so far as to bring Thomas in for a meeting to make sure the player knew the club was behind him.
''We had a chat this morning,'' said McDonald. ''He's got no worries about it. Look, it's been highlighted now, so the main thing is that it doesn't impact on the way he goes about Friday night [against Carlton].
''Lindsay's a very energetic, passionate footballer and he throws himself around and we want him to keep doing that.''
McDonald said Thomas was not a stager. ''He attacks the footy how Brad [Scott] wants him to. He [Scott] is the only one he listens to.''
The Roos did not take up the issue with West Coast.
''We've just got to worry about what we're doing,'' said McDonald.
''Other clubs are going to do what they feel will get them to where they want to be.
''The number one thing for us is to look after the player, and that's where our energies are going.
''Lindsay's faced some hurdles this year and he's been outstanding the way he's worked through them.''