JACK Ziebell’s father has jumped to his son’s defence, saying the suspended North Melbourne star was a ball-player and wouldn’t change his game style.
The former Wodonga midfielder will miss games against Richmond, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and Essendon after the Roos decided yesterday not to appeal his four-match ban for rough conduct against Carlton’s Aaron Joseph.
Ziebell, 21, has been inundated with support on social media from teammates and rival players who, like his father, Gary, believe the suspension handed out at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night was excessive.
“It was pretty disappointing,” Gary told The Border Mail.
“We actually thought he was going for the ball,” he said yesterday.
“The way the tribunal saw it was a bit funny because they actually said his intent was the ball.
“The thing that got him was that he had another option (to tackle).
“Like Jack said, he was coached to go for the ball.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people in the AFL and they all say (that it didn’t warrant a four-week ban).”
Ziebell had risked an extra week by going to the tribunal after he was offered a four-match ban, reduced to three on an early plea, by the match review panel for his bump on Joseph in the second quarter of the Roos’ 53-point win last Friday night.
The vice-captain’s penalty was inflated by a 30 per cent loading and carry-over points from a front-on bump to St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt that cost him three matches late last season.
Video footage shows Blue Marc Murphy sending a high handball to Joseph, who didn’t appear to brace for the bump and was later substituted with concussion.
Gary, who said a similar incident “happened every third contest” in his country footy playing days without punishment, said his son had “copped it on the chin”.
“He’s obviously disappointed but that’s the law of the land,” he said.
“He just needs to get back on the horse.
“The club have indicated they don’t want to see him changing his game too much.
“They are happy with how he goes about it.”
Social media has been awash with Ziebell supporters.
Teammate Drew Petrie said on Twitter: “Advice for @jackziebell. Stop being so courageous and playing footy hard the way it’s meant to be played. Please turn into a softy.”
And former Roo and Cat Cam Mooney had this to say: “We need to start teaching our kids when the ball is there to be won stop first make sure you don’t hurt anyone then try and get it.”
Brisbane Lions skipper Jonathan Brown also expressed his surprise at the severity of Ziebell’s suspension.
“It probably justified a free kick, but he was jumping in the air to contest for the ball,” Brown said.
“I think a free kick would have been enough.”
North football chief Donald McDonald told kangaroos.com.au that there were “no grounds for us to appeal”.
“It’s now important that we support Jack and reiterate we are extremely proud of the way he plays,” McDonald said.
“He’s a proven ball-player and we believe his only intention in this situation was to win the ball in the contest.
“For the club, our players and supporters, we now need to come together as a group and focus on our next challenge this weekend against Richmond.”