Richmond stars’ Daniel Rioli and Shai Bolton are nursing injuries after being involved in a nightclub brawl in Melbourne last weekend.
Rioli, who was punched in the face, has two stitches underneath his eye and Bolton required surgery after fracturing his wrist from intervening in the fight. Bolton is now expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks.
The altercation is believed to sparked by “inappropriate behaviour” towards Rioli’s DJ and social media influencer girlfriend, Paris Lawrence.
Richmond has supported their players saying no disciplinary action will be taken and the AFL will look into the matter further to see if the players’ version of events is truthful.
“We haven’t finished,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.
“The integrity team are doing what they do and they haven’t finished that. My view is I respect [Richmond coach Damien Hardwick’s] view, but it’s different. Our players, and I ask all players, I don’t condone violence and they should be walking away.
“It’s difficult at times, I know that provocation exists and circumstances are always relevant but my general position is that people need to walk away and be above that.”
Hardwick has backed his players saying that he believed they did the “right thing in making a stand”.
“When a young lady is being intimidated inappropriately or whether she felt insecure, we expect our players to stand in,” Hardwick said.
“Daniel, as far as we’re concerned, did the right thing.
“We don’t condone violence in any way, so don’t get me wrong there, but what I will say is there are certain situations where we expect our players to make a stand.”
Hardwick mentioned that football bosses Tim Livingstone and Blair Hartley had spoken with Bolton and Rioli, and that the Tigers were “absolutely” confident there was no wrongdoing on their behalf.
“We’ve got to the bottom of it — the evidence we’ve got and the story we have,” Hardwick said.
“So from our point of view, we back in the players.”
Rioli took part in a light training run on Friday with Hardwick pleased by his performance.
“He’s trained very well this week and he’s looked quick and fast,” Hardwick said.
Hardwick also mentioned that Bolton was “disappointed” to be on the sidelines but the break would allow him to work on his craft.
The Tigers have announced that midfielder Hugo Ralphsmith will make his debut in Saturday night’s game against Greater Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium, helping to fill the void left by Bolton.
Hardwick says the best move for Rioli now is to focus on the GWS clash and put the off-field incident out of his mind.
By Teisha Cloos