Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks has gone into bat for Tom Lynch and defended the decision to use the veteran forward as medical substitute in the Crows’ three-point AFL loss to Hawthorn.
Defender Will Hamill was assisted from the field by trainers late in the third quarter of Sunday’s game with an ankle injury but substitute Lynch wasn’t immediately ready to go.
Lynch instead headed down to Adelaide’s rooms, requiring treatment on an ongoing toe issue before entering the game in the fourth quarter – a situation queried by AFL great Jason Dunstall on the Fox Footy broadcast.
On Monday, Nicks insisted Adelaide had always intended to give the substitute time to prepare to enter the game but acknowledged the “aesthetics” of Lynch scrambling to put on his socks and boots were far from ideal.
“We acknowledge off the bat that it wasn’t the best look,” Nicks said.
“For supporters and people watching on the TV to have a player it looked like rushing around the change rooms getting organised, we can see how that came across.
“The intention that we went into the game with and the plan was executed exactly as we’d planned it.
“… at this point, without looking into it in too much more detail, would we go the same way this week and have our medical sub not rush, compose themselves, get ready, make sure that they’re ready to go?
“Yeah, we’d go the same way. W’d give that player 15-odd minutes.”
The Adelaide coach confirmed Lynch had needed painkillers to play but insisted the 30-year-old was “match-fit” and could have played the whole game if required.
Nicks labelled criticism of Lynch “unwarranted” but said the Crows would assess their approach to the medical substitute.
“It’s tough for any player, let alone an experienced player, to take the criticism that he’s received over the last 24 hours,” Nicks said.
“It’s unwarranted because he’s carrying out his role, he’s the ultimate professional.
“For those who know Tom, he’s all about team, he was ready to go. It was my instruction to Tom: ‘no rush’.
“I jumped on the phone with three minutes to go in the third quarter and said ‘no rush, we’ll get you on in the first rotation, you’ll be ready to go’, so he carried out our plan.
“Now we’ll look at our plan from here but I’d like to think maybe that some people, with a bit better understanding of where it’s at, may go a bit easier on Tom.”