COLLINGWOOD coach Craig McRae will seek clarification from the AFL this week after small forward Jack Ginnivan wasn't paid several head high free kicks in the second half of the Magpies' four-point win over Hawthorn on Sunday.
The 19-year-old kicked the opening goal of the game due to a free kick and added a second before quarter-time following another infringement, which resulted in a 50m penalty after Hawks star James Sicily vented his frustration.
The whistle went away around Ginnivan in the second half, despite a number of tackles that appeared to land above the shoulder during a tense finish in wet conditions at the MCG.
Collingwood has been one of the most surprising sides in the first half of 2022, winning the past three games to jump back into the eight at 7-5, with Ginnivan emerging as one of the most talked about players in the game.
McRae consulted with Collingwood head of football Graham Wright midway through his press conference – half joking, half serious – before confirming the club would make contact with the AFL's general manager of football, Brad Scott.
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"Maybe I need to get some clarity. As far as I am aware, it is a free kick, so we'll just get some clarity around that. You can't (not) get paid a free kick because we don’t like you. I'll get some clarity around that," McRae told reporters on Sunday night.
Ginnivan has now kicked 21 goals from 10 appearances in 2022 – Charlie Cameron and Tyson Stengle are the only pure small forwards to have kicked more – but 10 have been from free kicks adding to the intrigue that surrounds the polarising Pie.
McRae doesn’t have an issue with that way Ginnivan has been going about his business, encouraging the 19-year-old to keep getting to the ball first and making himself difficult to tackle within the laws of the game.
"Playing for free kicks is an interesting way of putting it. I think players are really good at avoiding tackles and learning how to evade tackles and make it hard to be tackled," he said.
"We tell our players to spend time over the ball which means you're likely to get some front-on contact. Being tackled versus getting tackled we practice that.
"I think it’s a skill. It forces the tackler to really being on his best game. Is it within the rules? There is no rule against it at the minute. I think it's smart; I think it's smart play."
Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell said there was an art to being able to win free kicks inside 50 as an opportunist small forward, and didn’t have an issue with the way his players defended Ginnivan on Sunday.
"Clever small forwards, a lot of them, in their kitbag, is the ability to draw a free kick. Paul Puopolo was a guy I played with for a long time that was a master of it. There is a real art to it," Mitchell told reporters at his press conference.
"If you're going to be a small forward, having that in your kitbag is pretty helpful. Ginnivan has got (an ability) to genuinely draw a free kick. Our players were very aware of that going into the game. I thought they handled those situations really well."
For the second straight week, Collingwood dug in and found a way to outlast the opposition at the MCG. Last week it was Carlton, this week Hawthorn. Both by four points to bank four points.
McRae said the football department spent three hours analysing the final two minutes of the chaotic finish against the Blues and put the lessons into practice seven days later against the Hawks.
"In the last minute, my heart was going more than last week, to be honest. There is a fine line between happiness and misery, isn’t there? Two weeks in a row we are happy with the way we executed in the last parts of the game," he said.
"You don't get a chance to really sit here and smell the roses too often. But sitting here, talking to the playing group, I just think there is growth within us every week.
"We dissected the last two minutes of last week for about three hours in lines and in different areas. To see then them take the learnings from last week and then execute this week, we probably don’t get the result in the end. I'm really proud of that and that’s the growth that we're getting."
Star forward Jamie Elliott was replaced before the bounce by Reef McInnes after falling ill on Saturday – non-COVID-19 related – and failing to improve in time by Sunday. McInnes was substituted out of the game in the second half after dislocating his shoulder and will undergo scans early in the week to determine the severity of the injury.