Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale is set to face scrutiny from the AFL’s MRO for making unnecessary contact with an umpire.

Brisbane star Lachie Neale is set to face scrutiny from the AFL’s Match Review Officer after vision showed him making unnecessary contact with an umpire.

The incident occurred in the second quarter of the Lions’ 15. 13. (103) to 12. 13. (85) win over Carlton at Marvel Stadium when Neale’s head was cut open in a tackle and he tapped umpire Matthew Nicholls on the arm.

The AFL has consistently frowned upon players making contact with umpires, even dishing out suspensions in similar incidents in the past.

However, Neale downplayed the incident after the match, indicating that he did not realise exactly what he had done.

“I felt the blood and I thought he was about to throw it up,” Neale told Fox Footy after the Lions’ win.

“I didn’t even realise that I did that, so there you go. I was just trying to get his attention to get off the ground.”

The incident immediately caught the attention of Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall, who was on commentary for Fox Footy.

“He was letting him know because he wanted a free kick for high contact … (But) surely he’s not going to get a week for touching the umpire?” he said.

“What if he proves exceptional circumstances in that he’s worried about the safety of the other players? He’s got free-flowing blood and he needs them to stop the game so he can go off.”

Geelong forward Tom Hawkins was handed a one-match ban for a similar incident involving umpire Dean Margetts back in 2018, while Carlton’s Ed Curnow was also handed a week in the same season for “intentional contact” with an umpire.

However, since the Hawkins and Curnow incidents, the AFL has changed the guidelines around contact with umpires, with contact assessed as either “aggressive, forceful, demonstrative or disrespect” and “unreasonable or unnecessary”.

Whether or not Neale receives a suspension will be decided by how Match Review Officer Michael Christian grades the contact made with the umpire.

Neale’s incident with umpire Nicholls came after he was forced off the field with an ankle injury in the first quarter, before returning with a heavily-strapped right leg.

The reigning Brownlow Medallist appeared severely hampered for the majority of the match, but still finished with 24 disposals, although 16 were handballs.

Hugh McCluggage continued on from a dominant performance in Round Five by adding another 33 disposals, while Eric Hipwood kicked three goals.

Carlton’s efforts were led by the tireless Sam Walsh, who led the Blues with 33 disposals and a goal, while Harry McKay was sensational up forward with six goals.

Brisbane will return home in Round Seven to face Port Adelaide at home in a blockbuster clash, while Carlton will face Essendon in a must-win clash at the MCG.

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