GREATER Western Sydney midfielder Callan Ward has revealed he has received death threats after he was the beneficiary of a divisive free kick that sealed Friday night's win over Essendon.
The former captain was taken high by Bomber Shaun McKernan 40m from goal before converting a major to put the Giants 10 points clear with less than 90 seconds on the clock.
While Ward said he would've liked his time again with the reaction he made to contact, he has detailed the impact of messages received in the hours post-match.
"The reason I brought (social media response) up is that I know it is a reality," Ward told 3AW on Saturday afternoon.
"I won't listen to it, but I know there are people that probably would, and I think it just has to stop because if you have been getting death threats like I have been getting, some players couldn't handle that.
"I guess with what has happened, the most disappointing thing is I have a lot of Essendon supporters and a lot of AFL supporters commenting on photos of Romeo, my baby, and saying that I am a flog and all this stuff.
"I am in a situation where I am an AFL footballer, but at the same time I am away from my family (wife Ruby and son in Sydney) and it is tough.
"It is disappointing to see where people feel the need to express their passion and hatred towards me at the moment."
Essendon released a statement late on Saturday night strongly condemning the threats directed at Ward and promised to take appropriate action if the offender is a member.
Ward said he didn't want to be remembered as a stager.
"In the heat of the moment I was going the ball at a pretty quick pace, I felt contact to my head," he said.
"I don't know whether I played it up a bit, probably just made sure I got the free kick.
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"I'd probably like to say looking back on the replay that I wouldn't do it again. In the heat of the moment that's what I did, and I guess it looks worse on replay because of the time of the game.
"Looking back on it, it's probably disappointing to watch. I don't want to be known as a player who stages, I'm not saying I did stage, in the heat of the moment and instinctively that's the act I did."
Ward praised new captain Stephen Coniglio for his half-time speech he described as "the most impressive speech from anybody" as the Giants came from 16 points behind at the main break.