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Prestia recovering well after hit, Protected zone rule changed, Demons won’t rush star duo

Richmond star Dion Prestia is on track to play against Gold Coast next week but teammate Trent Cotchin will miss at least another fortnight through injury.

Prestia was left concussed by a crude bump from Tom Stewart last Saturday in an incident that led to the Geelong defender being hit with a four-match suspension.

It means Prestia is unavailable for the Tigers’ AFL clash with West Coast at the MCG on Sunday as they look to firm up their spot in the top eight.

Richmond physical performance manager Peter Burge says the midfielder is progressing well in his recovery.

“He obviously pulled up not 100 per cent the day after the game, and the doctor has assessed him and he’s now going into that 12-day concussion protocol, which is quite progressive,” Burge said.

“So we’re preparing him for the Gold Coast game next week.

Dion Prestia of the Tigers is helped from the ground after being bumped by Tom Stewart.

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“He’ll move into some lighter exercise during the rest of this week and then progress into some non-contact training early next week.

“By the end of that week, we’ll be able to move into that final stage of contact hopefully leading into the Gold Coast game.

“We feel pretty confident that he’ll be right to play in that game in a fortnight.”

Cotchin had surgery last week to put a plate into a crack in his clavicle after he was hurt during the win over Carlton in round 14.

The former captain has resumed running and non-contact training but requires at least another fortnight for the bone to heal.

“He’s actually going to get a good little block of training in and it’s really down to the surgeon and our doctor as to when it’s safe for him to play again,” Burge said.

“But it gives us a good opportunity in the meantime to tune him up a bit and get him ready for the final stages of the season.”

Kane Lambert (hip) will take part in Richmond’s main training session on Thursday before a decision is made on his availability for the West Coast game.

Noah Balta is likely to miss another two matches with his latest hamstring injury.

AFL closing loophole in rules

The AFL has moved to close a loophole in its contentious protected area rule, saying there had been “unexpected exploitation” by players.

Umpires have been told to no longer pay 50m penalties when players deliberately run their opponents into the protected area with the intention of creating a split between them.

The rule permits a defending player to follow their opponent into the protected area around a player taking a set kick, provided they are within two metres of each other.

Where a split happens, and the defender continues to run through and clears the area, the umpires will no longer pay a 50m penalty.

Some players have run around the man on the mark to create the split and expose their opponent to a potential 50m penalty.

The AFL called the tactic an unintended exploitation of the rule in a statement released on Tuesday.

“The protected area rule is designed for the kicker to have options to move the ball,” said umpires boss Dan Richardson.

“It is having the desired effect; however, there have been more and more instances of players deliberately running their opponent into the zone with the intention of getting split and/or drawing a 50m penalty.

“If this ‘split’ of players happens, providing the defender moves to vacate the area, the umpires have been instructed to no longer apply a 50m penalty.

Demons won’t rush decision for star duo

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin insists there is “no rush” to re-sign Luke Jackson and Angus Brayshaw as AFL rivals circle the out-of-contract premiership stars.

Jackson has attracted interest from WA clubs West Coast and Fremantle, who are keen to lure the 20-year-old ruckman back to his home state.

Eagles veteran Nic Naitanui said this week he stays in contact with Jackson and would “love to have him” at the club.

Goodwin is hopeful the Demons can sort out a deal to retain Max Gawn’s ruck protege in the near future but won’t hurry a decision.

“Luke’s just going through a process with his management and the club, and looking at all his various options,” Goodwin said.

Luke Jackson of the Demons celebrates a goal

Luke Jackson. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“He’s a young player, he’s in his third season of AFL footy and he’s an incredibly talented player.

“He was pick three in the draft, he’s played (43) games, he’s played in a premiership.

“This will play out in its due course and we’re really hopeful based on Luke’s attitude towards this footy club and this team that he’ll want to be part of the Melbourne footy club for a long time to come.

“There’s no rush to get this answer out of Luke. He needs time to make his decision and we’ll give him the time he needs.”

The Demons are taking the same approach with versatile 26-year-old Brayshaw, who is a free agent this year.

“He’s been a big part of our culture and driving our club forward,” Goodwin said.

“We want to make sure that he’s here for the long haul.

“He’s going through a process himself and he’s got some big decisions to make.

“He’s at that age (26) now where you can be a one-club player or you can just have a little look around and Gus is a free agent.

“That’s how our industry works but what I do know about Gus is he’s put a lot into this footy club and he’s very passionate about it.”

Jackson stepped up in the win over Brisbane last week, shouldering the ruck load in Gawn’s absence as Melbourne snapped a three-match losing run to move back to the top of the ladder.

Gawn will miss at least one more match with an ankle injury.

The Demons take on Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

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