Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin was stretchered off just minutes into the 2020 AFL grand final after a nasty collision in the opening quarter.
In one direction Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield was racing into a contest for the loose ball before he extended his fist to punch it away. But as Vlastuin approached Dangerfield in the contest, the Cats veteran pulled his arm in, leading to his elbow making rough contact to the head of the Tigers star.
“[Dangerfield] was looking to knock the ball out, and his elbow was still out after knocking it, and Vlastuin’s run into it,” AFL legend Matthew Lloyd said in commentary for 3AW, after a freakish sequence of play that also saw Gary Ablett seek treatment on his left shoulder after a separate incident seconds earlier.
“I think Vlastuin is a bigger loss (than Ablett) to be honest. They’re both big, but Vlastuin behind the ball is critical,” Lloyd said.
Vlastuin was immediately floored by the impact, and suffered a concussion. The game was stopped for several minutes as medical staff rushed to the ground, secured Vlastuin in a neck brace, and removed him from the game on a stretcher and medical cart.
“It’s almost like two actions – [Dangerfield] punched the ball on, but then maybe brought the forearm up to protect himself,” AFL great Leigh Matthews said of Dangerfield’s actions on 3AW.
“You can’t protect yourself by making contact with another guy’s head.”
Vlastuin was later seen walking from the sheds with his boots off and by quarter-time it was announced that the two-time Premiership winner’s night was officially prematurely over.