North Melbourne coach Brad Scott does not look particularly happy at three-quarter-time. Photo: Getty Images
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has admitted forward Lindsay Thomas's reputation in the football world doesn't match his performance because of his staging for free kicks.
Scott said that while Thomas had worked hard to eradicate staging from his game, he would again confront his player about the issue after an incident in the Roos' loss to Geelong on Saturday night.
Late in the third quarter, Thomas won a free kick against his opponent, James Kelly for a push in the back, from which he goalled. While contact was made, Thomas threw himself forward to exaggerate the force of the push, earning criticism from his coach.
"I wasn't happy with that," Scott said. "Whether it was a free kick or not, just play the ball, mark the ball, and if you get infringed the umpire will pay it.
"We've worked on that, and I think he's improved over the last three, four or five years in that stuff. And it's pretty clear. I've said to Lindsay: ‘If you keep doing that, the umpire will assume you're doing it all the time even when it is a free kick'. So I'll speak to him about that again."
Thomas was North Melbourne's most effective forward, with three goals in the 32-point loss to Geelong. But Scott conceded that Thomas's reputation as a diver had coloured judgments of his performances.
"I'd like some people to go and compare his output over the last three years against other players in other teams who play similar positions, and I think he'd come up pretty favourably," Scott said. "But he probably isn't spoken about in the same glowing terms because of these things, and I think that's important.
"But more important than that is the fact I'd hate to see Lindsay not getting a free kick when he's genuinely infringed because there's a perception that he plays for it. So we don't condone it, and he's got to stop doing it. I think he's been better, but he relapsed on one occasion tonight."
Players can be cited for staging by the AFL Match Review Panel, with Essendon's Leroy Jetta and Carlton's Jarrad Waite having been reprimanded previously.
Scott also lamented "15 minutes of madness" from his team in the second quarter, when a series of off-the-ball infringements, two involving veteran Brent Harvey and another involving Majak Daw, led to a series of Geelong goals, to leave the Roos suddenly trailing by 22 points, a deficit from which they could not regain the lead.
But he also noted that the tight control umpires enforced in the first half of the game hadn't extended to the second half, pondering whether the umpires had been spoken to at half-time.
"People make mistakes, umpires make mistakes, and we've got to try to keep our composure and players have got to try to get control back of the game, and we lost control of the game for whatever reason," he said.
"We are brutal on undisciplined rubbish and it costs the team. But I found it really hard from the vision I had in the box to identify whether players needed to be disciplined for it. I know we didn't have any [off the ball free kicks] paid in the second half, and neither did Geelong, so probably the question that should be asked is what was said to the umpires at half-time."
Scott's twin, Chris, meanwhile, said that while Geelong still needed to improve to mix it with the teams above it on the ladder, the solid five-goal win had been a step forward.
"I thought we were better in a lot of areas tonight than we have been for a lot of the year," the Geelong coach said. "We've still got some things that we need to work on, but ... we're starting to build and we're starting to get some players back that hadn't had much of a pre-season."
He lauded the contribution of the Cats' runners like Allen Christensen, Steven Motlop, Mitch Duncan and Josh Caddy.
"Some of our young players with speed on the outside make us a different team, particularly at Etihad, to the one we've been. At the moment, it's only one game, but they're complementing our guys who are pretty good on the inside."