Harley Reid during the match between West Coast and St Kilda at Optus Stadium on June 1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL'S football boss, Laura Kane, has ruled out any prospect of the League removing suspensions from the Rising Star and Brownlow Medal eligibility criteria, after 2023 No.1 pick Harley Reid and Western Bulldogs young gun Sam Darcy both received two-game bans in round 12. 

Both Reid and Darcy are now ineligible for this year's Ron Evans Medal as the AFL Rising Star after being handed suspensions, although West Coast is aiming to reduce the impact grading of Reid's charge from high to medium at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night, which would halve the sanction. 

The Victorian was charged with rough conduct after laying a dangerous tackle on St Kilda draftee Darcy Wilson at Optus Stadium, less than 24 hours after Darcy was given two weeks for a late hit on Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard


"I can categorically rule out the eligibility criteria for Rising Star changing," Kane told AFL.com.au on Monday. 

"Notwithstanding the outcomes of the incidents over the weekend – one is being contested albeit on an outcome that would still see Harley miss a game of football – it's not something we're looking at."

North Melbourne great Corey McKernan missed out on the 1994 AFL Rising Star award after being suspended for tripping, paving the way for Chris Scott to win the prize at the start of his decorated career at Brisbane. Toby Greene also missed out in 2012 for a bump, before finishing runner-up in the Kevin Sheedy Medal. 

Kane said the AFL won't consider changing the eligibility criteria next year and beyond, despite the League's crackdown on dangerous tackles and high bumps in recent years leading to an increase in suspensions. 

"No, it's not (something the AFL will consider changing in the future)," she said. 

"The Rising Star has been in existence and awarded since 1993 (when) Nathan Buckley was the first winner. Toby Greene missed (out on winning) in his year that he otherwise would have possibly won it, Dustin Martin the same. That dates back to 2010 and 2012. 

"There are plenty of other awards that those players can win; the best first-year player is an example, but not the Brownlow or the Rising Star."

Sam Darcy after colliding with Brayden Maynard during the Western Bulldogs' win over Collingwood in round 12, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Meanwhile, Kane said the AFL was satisfied with the way St Kilda handled the head injury assessment of ruckman Rowan Marshall in the dying minutes of Saturday's game against West Coast, where Saints doctor John Brooks entered the field of play to conduct an assessment. 

Marshall passed a SCAT6 assessment after the final siren and hasn't displayed any symptoms since returning to Melbourne on Sunday. 

"We were comfortable with the fact Rowan didn't need to leave the field of play," she said.

Rowan Marshall in action during St Kilda's clash with West Coast in round 12, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"We spoke a couple of weeks ago about head injury assessments occurring on the field. I think what's important here is just the communication, so the communication between player, between club official – that was the doctor in this case – and our umpires. We need to make that as efficient as effective as possible. 

"Clearly we can spend some time making sure that's a smooth a process moving forward. We're comfortable with St Kilda's management of their player and so we will spend some time educating our clubs on the best way to communicate in that very tightly contested situation, always prioritising health and safety if and when a situation arose where a player did need to come off the field."

After tightening the interpretation of holding the ball ahead of round 12 to give players less time to dispose of the ball, Kane was pleased to observe a rise of more than 40 per cent of free kicks paid compared to the season average. 

"It is important to note that we didn't make a rule change, we made an interpretation change to one aspect of how our umpires officiate the game and we were really pleased," she said.

"The umpires were monitoring this, as were we, over the past couple of weeks in particular, noticing a very good problem to have which was players weren't bringing players to ground in un unsafe way. We needed to blow our whistle a little bit quicker to make sure we maintained player health and safety. 

"We saw that and we expected to see a little uptick in holding the ball frees paid. I think if we didn't I might have questioned why we made the interpretation change but we saw an increase of three on average per game."