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Roos AFL player breaks ranks on tunnelling

When is a tunnel not a tunnel in the AFL?

North Melbourne forward Drew Petrie courted controversy this week when he highlighted ‘tunnelling’ tactics allegedly used by Richmond defenders that unfairly unbalanced Kangaroos forwards in marking contests.

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But Petrie’s teammate Scott Thompson, clearly a paid-up member of the AFL defenders’ union, says there’s an important distinction between tunnelling and the good body work that is the cornerstone of any good back man’s game.

“I don’t think it’s tunnelling if you get hands on the ball – it’s just body work,” Thompson said on Thursday ahead of North’s main training session.

“It’s the AFL so you want a physical contest – if they’re still going for the ball, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

“(But) as a defender, I can’t really say anything because I probably do it myself.

“Our forwards would have seen it and they’ll work through it. If it happens again, I’m sure Drew Petrie and Ben Brown will have something to combat it.”

Thompson was one of nine players rested for the round-23 clash with Richmond with all nine, plus Lindsay Thomas who has been out with a foot injury, added to the Roos’ extended squad for Sunday’s elimination final rematch.

The side will be almost unrecognisable to the one that battled bravely before going down to Richmond but Thompson says the huge player turnover won’t be an issue.

“We’ve had a pretty steady team all year and we’ve been gelling well together so I don’t think it should have too much of an impact,” he said.

“I hate missing games (but) I do what’s best for the club and that’s winning finals and winning a premiership.

“I think that (resting) gives us the best chance to win this game.”

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