‘You’re dealing with d**kheads’: AFL great says players are constantly baited in public by punters trying to cause trouble – and understands actions of nightclub punch-up duo
- Patrick Dangerfield, 31, says AFL players are ‘dealing with d**kheads’ at clubs
- The Geelong great sympathises with Richmond duo Shai Bolton and Daniel Rioli
- The Richmond pair found themselves in a nightclub brawl over the weekend
AFL stars are constantly ‘dealing with d**kheads’ when they go out to bars and nightclubs and are often baited into responding, one of the game’s greats has said.
Geelong superstar and AFL Players Association chief Patrick Dangerfield said he was therefore not surprised Richmond duo Shai Bolton, 22, and Daniel Rioli, 24, ended up in a fight at Club YoYo in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday.
The late-night scuffle was sparked after Rioli’s girlfriend Paris Lawrence was subjected to ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by another club-goer.
Patrick Dangerfield of the Geelong Cats (left) is seen with his daughter Felicite (second from left) and wife Mardi and their son George at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, Friday, November 22, 2019
Rioli received stitches above his eye after being punched and teammate Shai Bolton suffered a broken wrist that will stop him playing for two to three weeks.
‘The challenges are, especially when you go out and you are letting your hair down after a stressful week, is that you are dealing with d**kheads that pull out their phones at a nightclub and are just trying to film something to put on social media,’ Dangerfield told SEN Radio on Wednesday.
‘We have to treat our players like adults and they have to be able to go out and enjoy themselves, but you do deal with members of the general public that are out there for nothing but trouble.’
The AFL Players Association president said he sympathises with Bolton and Rioli because the duo were put in a difficult situation when something inappropriate happened to a partner.
Rioli (pictured with Ms Lawrence) was seen at training on Tuesday with bruising to his right eye
Bolton’s wrist was injured in the melee after he stepped in to back-up Rioli. He is pictured with his girlfriend Hasina
‘We still need to let our players live their lives. As soon as we don’t allow players to do that, that’s the moment we will have players step away from the game because it is not enjoyable,’ Dangerfeild said.
Richmond Tigers chief executive Brendon Gale on Tuesday offered a similar view, but added he wished they had simply removed themselves from the situation.
‘They took what steps were necessary, we’d rather they didn’t, we’d prefer they didn’t but they did,’ Gale said.
‘They’re young men and sometimes you can’t put old heads on young shoulders.
‘They took steps for what they deemed to be (appropriate) when you want to look after your partner, you want to look after your friends, but as hard as it is… we’d prefer them (to) just walk away.’
Rioli (left) was punched in the face and Bolton (right) suffered a broken wrist following the physical altercation at Club YoYo in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday. The pair are pictured together in August 2020