AFL News: Dees’ big Oliver Opening Round call confirmed, Saint’s family’s vile response to hit on Roo

Melbourne have confirmed star midfielder Clayton Oliver will suit up for the Demons in their Opening Round clash with Sydney, despite a limited pre-season due to a turbulent summer off-field.

Oliver played limited minutes with the Dees’ VFL players for part of their scratch match against Richmond, before again featuring in VFL affiliate Casey’s official practice match against Carlton last week.

Having taken an indefinite break from the club midway through pre-season to prioritise his mental health, the 26-year old was in grave doubt to feature for the start of the season at AFL level, but a Herald Sun report confirmed he will face the Swans at the SCG on Thursday night, having been deemed match fit and ready to go.

The Dees have also locked top draft pick Caleb Windsor and wingman Blake Howes in to make their AFL debuts, while former Saint Jack Billings will also don the red and blue for premiership points for the first time.

For the Swans, ruckman Brodie Grundy is expected to play his first game at the Swans since being traded from the Demons late last year.

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Saint’s family’s vile response to Simpkin hit emerges

St Kilda defender Jimmy Webster’s shocking high hit on North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin has received condemnation from around the footy world – but not, it seems, from those closest to him.

The Herald Sun revealed a series of vile comments made by Webster’s family on social media in relation to the incident, with his sister Alysha commenting ‘Goodnight’ on a video post of the hit.

Alysha Webster’s comment on the AFL’s Facebook video of brother Jimmy’s hit has since been deleted. (Image via News Corp)

Webster’s brother Jay wrote ‘Fair bump play on’ in a separate post.

The incident left Simpkin with his third concussion in the last nine months, with the Kangaroos confirming he will enter the AFL’s concussion protocols; however, they are confident he will recover in time for their Round 1 clash with GWS on March 16 – one day after he will be cleared to return under the league’s 12-day minimum rest period.

Webster is expected to be sent straight to the Tribunal for the incident, and faces a ban of six matches or more.

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL set to clamp down on concussion protocols

The AFL is set to tighten its concussion protocols ahead of the 2024 season, with clubs told of pending changes to how players will be cleared to return from head knocks.

While SEN reports the minimum 12-day rest period will remain, the process for players who enter the protocols being passed fit to return will now be far more stringent.

Currently, players are permitted to return on the 12th day after the day on which the concussion occurred, and need to have completed a graded loading program and received a medical all-clear to play again.

The protocols have caused controversy in recent years; in 2023, Port Adelaide were handed a hefty fine after opting not to submit star defender Aliir Aliir to a SCAT5 concussion test after a nasty head clash with teammate Lachie Jones.

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