Collingwood great Nathan Buckley believes the AFL is right not to impose its own sanctions on Dayne Zorko for his on-field sledge that left Harrison Petty visibly distressed, adding that the media was delving into dangerous territory by attempting to find out exactly what was said.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast, it was put to Buckley that instead of taking a “birds-eye view” of the situation and letting the clubs sort the issue, the AFL should have stepped in. He disagreed.
“I understand that mentality and I think there needs to be a watchdog on respect and responsibility, and the AFL has put itself up on the pedestal in that regard as a very high expectation of social conscience … but the only person I think of here is Harrison,” he said.
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As the siren sounded to end the third quarter of the clash on Friday night, cameras caught Petty and Zorko engaging in a push and shove before the Demons defender was seen in tears in Melbourne’s huddle.
Via a statement on Saturday morning, the club confirmed Zorko had been counselled by senior management, and admitted his comments were “inappropriate.”
“I have apologised to Harrison for the inappropriate comment I made to him last night,” Zorko said.
“I’m remorseful for my actions and take full responsibility for the hurt caused to Harrison, his family and the Melbourne Football Club.
“In reflection, I understand I need to be a better leader, and have spoken with the club who have reinforced this.”
Buckley believes if this apology was genuine, the issue should end there.
“I don’t feel like we needed to go and chase what exactly was said – I don’t need to know what Dayne Zorko said,” he said.
“All I need to know is that it’s been dealt with … that Harrison Petty feels like the apology was genuine, that Dayne Zorko is remorseful in the situation, and that their clubs have been able to address it off of the field in the cold, hard light of day.
“If I’m the AFL, that’s what I need to know.
“For a lot of people that’s not enough. And for the media in particular it’s not enough because we chase it down the rabbit hole…
“The person I think of most is Harrison Petty. He doesn’t want it played over and over and over and he probably doesn’t want whatever that comment was to hit fresh air, because it might actually impact on someone in his life, from what we’re led to believe. So I think it’s better left alone.”
Zorko has overstepped the mark on the field on previous occasions and has earned a reputation for white-line fever. Buckley said in the modern-day with cameras and microphones everywhere, that excuse could no longer valid.
“There’s not very much that actually stays on the field anymore. It’s not what it used to be on that side of the white line.”
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