‘You’re not allowed to do that’: McRae demands answers from AFL after controversial free kick robs Pies of victory


Collingwood coach Craig McRae says he will be eagerly awaiting the AFL’s thoughts on the controversial free kick that cost his side victory in the draw with Fremantle.

The Magpies led by 25 points with just over seven minutes remaining on Friday before Fremantle stormed home with four quick goals to snatch a share of the spoils in front of 54,035 fans at Optus Stadium.

The big talking point after the Magpies finished with 10.15 (75) to Fremantle’s 11.9 (75) was Mathew Nichols’ decision to penalise Collingwood’s Lachlan Sullivan for handing teammate Nick Daicos the ball instead of returning it to the umpire after a ball-up was called.

“You gave the ball to him, you have to give it to me,” Nichols told Sullivan, before addressing other confused Collingwood players.

“He handed the ball to a teammate, you’re not allowed to do that.”

“He didn’t hand the ball back to me, he handed it to a team mate. He’s not allowed to do that.”#AFLFreoPies pic.twitter.com/vGywugz8qk

— 7AFL (@7AFL) May 24, 2024

Sean Darcy nailed the ensuing set shot from just 15m out, reducing the margin to 13 points with six minutes remaining in what proved to be a huge turning point.

McRae was left baffled by the decision. “I’m looking forward to what the AFL tell us about that, because I wasn’t aware that’s a free kick,” McRae said. 

“But maybe clearly it is because they don’t pay things that aren’t there. So looking forward to see what they say.

“At that moment, I was confused because I was told that he (Nick Daicos) touched the umpire. I was unaware of what actually happened until afterwards.”

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir felt it was a fair free kick to be paid. “I’ve seen that paid before,” Longmuir said. 

“It’s time-wasting it isn’t it? That’s why the umpire would have paid it.”

 McRae doesn’t think the moment flustered his players. “I just assume that he’s umpiring to the letter of the law,” McRae said.

“I’d like to think it didn’t fluster us, let’s move on. Let’s go with what’s next, because that’s all you can control. 

“And if the umpires come out and say, ‘that was a mistake’, that doesn’t help us either. We’re just moving on. 

“The reality is it’s probably a free kick and we move on.”

Collingwood entered the match missing matchwinner Jordan De Goey, Jamie Elliott, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Tom Mitchell and Jeremy Howe among others.

Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek will now be added to that injury list. Mihocek re-injured the same hamstring that ruled him out for a fortnight earlier this month.

But the biggest concern surrounds Cox, who injured his knee and was concussed in the same third-quarter marking contest.

Cox’s knee bent back awkwardly and twisted awkwardly under his body while landing, with the American spending time in an ambulance after the match.

“The knee sort of twisted underneath him, he might have some bone bruising too,” McRae said. 

“There’s a bit more to play out, so we’ll have to wait and see on that.”

McRae said Howe (groin) is a chance to return for next week’s Friday night showdown with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium. 

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