Mark Thompson slams Hayden Ballantyne’s unfair niggling tactics
Dual premiership coach Mark Thompson has warned Fremantle’s serial pest Hayden Ballantyne his style of niggling tactics is not the way to play football.
Ballantyne stirred up a hornet’s nest in Fremantle’s Round 1 clash with defending premiers Geelong in Perth on Saturday night, as the Cats lost composure and gave away a series of 50-metre penalties in a four-point defeat.
Geelong’s triple-premiership defender Matthew Scarlett was booked for punching Ballantyne in the face and banned for three matches while James Kelly accepted a reprimand for striking Fremantle’s Tendai Mzungu.
A third match-day report against Geelong forward James Podsiadly for striking Nick Suban was withdrawn.
Ballantyne accepted a two-match ban for striking Cats veteran Paul Chapman in a separate behind-the-play incident during the first quarter.
Thompson, who is is his second year as an assistant at Essendon after guiding the Cats to two flags, said Ballantyne needs to change his ways.
“All the years that I’ve been involved in footy, I don’t promote that sort of behaviour by a bloke like Ballantyne,” Thompson told the AFL 360 program on Fox Footy.
“I just like to get on and play footy, play it fair and play it tough and shake hands at the end of the game.
“Just to stir people up is not my way of playing football.
“He might have upset Geelong this time, but you can’t do that every week and think that’s going to be a motivator to win you a premiership.”
But Fremantle coach Ross Lyon defended Ballantyne’s antagonising playing style, claiming the 2008 Sandover medallist had played an important role in the club’s win.
“You never want your players sitting in the grandstand through injury or suspension if they’re avoidable,” Lyon told 6PR’s Sports Central.
“I thought Hayden was really good for us. He was probably a bit better than I thought post-game watching it back a couple of times.
“I thought he was a real significant catalyst for the way we went.
“He was a real team leader and I love the way he goes about it.”
Thompson added that Scarlett would be disappointed that he had let the club down.
“He’d probably wanted to do it for a long time because he (Ballantyne) is a little … (pest),” Thompson said.
Collingwood assistant coach Rodney Eade also said the 174cm Ballantyne may need to ease back on his niggling tactics.
“If he’s in your face, good luck to him. I’ve got no problem with it,” Eade said.
“Players can get targeted by taggers and whatever the case may be and off the ball.
“I’m not saying stop it, but he’s got to temper it and maybe at times not bite off more than he can chew.”
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