Etihad synthetic to be reviewed

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AFL: Drew Petrie defends AstroTurf around the Etihad Stadium playing surface despite Daniel Menzel’s ankle injury.

Daniel Menzel sends a scare through the Etihad Stadium crowd as he slams into the fence. Picture: Michael Klein

THE AFL says it will consider all options to overhaul the synthetic turf at grounds despite it passing independent tests on Friday.

The league will form a working group with AFL players to assess safety concerns from the playing group around the synthetic turf.

Geelong’s Daniel Menzel will return to the Etihad Stadium surface that he believes contributed to his ankle injury last round.

AFL football operations boss Mark Evans said the Etihad synthetic surface had passed AFL and independent tests.

But he will form a working group that he hopes would include a member of the recent International Rules trip that visited the cutting-edge New York Jets facility.

That working party will review the product involved at stadiums, the maintenance of it and how close it should be to the boundary line.

Daniel Menzel sends a scare through the Etihad Stadium crowd as he slams into the fence. Picture: Michael Klein

Daniel Menzel sends a scare through the Etihad Stadium crowd as he slams into the fence. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

At Etihad Stadium the synthetic grass runs right up to the boundary line whereas at the MCG it is at least a metre back towards the fence.

“We met again with the AFLPA today and tested the venue and confirmed the tests with an independent contractor,’’ Evans said.

“Its hardness and traction was well within range and similar to normal turf. It didn’t appear slippery.

“But we want to see if there are any additional tests we can find or create and look at other turf systems.

“The product itself is one of the best systems in Australia, we need to assess the maintenance of the product or whether we need a refurb.

“And we want to put together a small group that will include players to continue the investigation and discussion.

AFL: Geelong forward Daniel Menzel is looking more likely to play against the Dogs on Saturday night, despite an ankle injury which he blamed on the artificial turf at Etihad Stadium.

“We will be visiting some of the other turf systems around and hopefully one of the players on the International Rules trip can join that.”

Geelong’s Jimmy Bartel likened the Etihad Stadium synthetic grass to concrete after Menzel tore ankle ligaments trying to pull up close to the boundary.

“I don’t think players should have to put up with it,” Bartel said after an AFLPA executive meeting.

“We spoke about it last night and everyone formed the opinion that you shouldn’t just accept it as it is and just have injuries.

“It seems to be an issue whenever someone gets hurt. And we don’t want that to be the case of having to wait until someone gets hurt to solve problems.”

The AFLPA would choose which players were on the working group, with all options on the table.

Brisbane Lions key position player Michael Close is still working through a compensation claim after tearing his ACL stumbling on the edge of the synthetic grass.

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