Former Saints and Bombers utility Brendon Goddard says he’s surprised the shifting turf at Marvel Stadium has only been raised in recent days, claiming it’s been an issue for the past decade.
Players from Western Bulldogs, Sydney, Gold Coast and St Kilda had trouble keeping their feet during the two Round 1 games at the venue on the weekend.
It appeared Bulldogs defender Matt Suckling and Suns co-captain David Swallow both suffered injuries while on the surface, but both clubs denied it was linked to the turf.
The AFL Players’ Association on Monday said the worst parts of the potholed pitch would be torn up ahead of Round 2, with pitch inspections to come.
Goddard, who played 162 of his 334 AFL games at Docklands, said players had been having troubles with the surface “for a long time”.
“It’s funny it’s taken this long to get some attention because during my time in the game, it’s been pretty poor in terms of the standard to other grounds, in particular. It’s really no different to what we experienced as players for the last 10 years,” Goddard told Fox Sports News’ AFL Tonight.
“It’s getting attention now due to a couple of minor injuries suffered … but it’s hard to explain to people because it’s good from far, far from good. It looks good aesthetically from afar, but it’s been this soft, sandy issue for a long time.”
“If you can think of playing 120 minutes of football and you change direction and the turf shifting slightly under your feet … it shifts quite regularly. Our muscles have to work overtime, your joints work overtime to stay upright … therefore you pull up worse after playing on Marvel Stadium.”
AFLPA player relations boss Brett Murphy said he’d fielded calls from players about the surface at the Docklands venue. Curiously, clubs that had played at the venue were reluctant to criticise the ground.
“It was largely players from other clubs who saw the game on TV … I was concerned watching it on TV. Generally the players and the clubs who were there were okay,” Murphy said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s unsafe. There are parts which certainly were not up to scratch.”
The AFL released a statement on Monday night, confirming Murphy’s comments and acknowledging parts of Marvel Stadium’s surface “deteriorated” across the weekend.
League football operations boss Steve Hocking said ensuring the “welfare and safety of AFL players” was a priority.
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