AFL 2024: Hawthorn speaks to league officials about Jack Ginnivan

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Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell says he’s “comfortable” with how Jack Ginnivan will be umpired in Sunday’s clash with the Collingwood premiership teammates the controversial forward said didn’t want him after conversations with the AFL about missed free kicks last weekend.

It comes as Magpies coach Craig McRae disputed Ginnivan’s claims of an “eye opening” exit interview which made his decision to cross to the Hawks easier. McRae said on Friday Ginnivan was “definitely wanted” but also hoped he didn’t get any free kicks on Sunday because he “didn’t get any playing for us.”

Ginnivan became the subject of rampant debate after AFL football boss Laura Kane conceded the umpires “missed a few” free kicks that should have gone his way against Geelong last Monday.

Several pundits however pointed to Ginnivan’s habit of playing for free kicks through various techniques when tackled and even Mitchell suggested in the aftermath that he had told all players “if you play for them you don’t deserve them”.

But Mitchell also sought clarification from the AFL about the adjudication of Ginnivan in particular amid claims he was being treated differently, with Hawthorn football boss Rob McCartney meeting with league officials this week.

Mitchell, who was loathed to focus on the debate around Ginnivan on Friday morning as the small forward prepares to clash with his premiership teammates, said it was important his player ignored the outside noise and that he “won’t be asking him to make significant changes” to the way he plays.

“Rob McCartney spoke to the AFL this week not just about Jack Ginnivan but in general some adjudication of the game last weekend and making sure we have got clarity about the way the rules are being adjudicated at the moment,” he said.

“And I think we are pretty comfortable and confident going into the game with Jack.”

Mitchell praised his recruit’s early season form but conceded this Sunday’s clash at Adelaide Oval would provide another unique challenge for Ginnivan, who lit the fuse for a fiery clash by claiming only Hawks players and no Magpies reached out to him when word of a potential shift occurred after the grand final.

McRae firmly denied the Magpies didn’t want to keep him and said a rapid escalation in trade talks with Hawthorn might have given him the impression no coach cared about his move.

“That’s his recollection of it – he was definitely wanted. We love Jack, we still do. He’s a premiership player and he’s always welcome back at our club,” McRae said.

“We’ll celebrate Jack when we have a (premiership) reunion and he’ll always be a Collingwood player, we love Jack.

“I do recall (he wasn’t contacted before the trade went through), and it was such a short period to be honest.

“Graham Wright and I were made that this was happening at short notice, and it happened really quickly.

“There was probably 12 hours of limbo … it didn’t go for very long. It happened Friday afternoon, the next thing Saturday it’s done, so maybe that’s the reason.”

Mitchell said he had urged Ginnivan to put all possible distractions about the clash behind him this week and focus on delivering as he had so far in his new colours.

“Every time he goes near the footy there’s going to be a different sound in the stadium to most players,” Mitchell said.

“It’s obviously a big week for Jack. I think everyone pencilled in the Ginnivan versus Collingwood game in the pre-season and now it’s here.

“He’s been in fantastic form, playing really well. I’m always about controlling the controllables and he can’t control over the conversations happening on the outside, he has to just make sure he continues to play his role and doing his job.

“I couldn’t fault him in that area.”