Trent Cotchin baffled as AFL’s Laura Kane ticks off on controversial Liam Stocker.

AFL premiership greats Trent Cotchin and Joel Selwood are baffled that the league’s footy boss Laura Kane has ticked off on a controversial free kick.

The AFL’s controversial “contact below the knees” rule was thrust back into the spotlight when St Kilda defender Liam Stocker was penalised for a contentious incident that left him battered and bruised against Geelong last Saturday night.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Liam Stocker gives away controversial free kick against Geelong.

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Stocker had his head over the ball and tapped it towards a teammate as Geelong captain Patrick Dangerfield, who was clearly second to the contest, came in from the side and clipped Stocker with a knee as he jumped over the St Kilda player.

Dangerfield was left effectively untouched as Stocker lay on the ground in pain with what appeared to be a corked lower back.

To make matters worse, he also gave away a free kick in the process — a decision which Kane says was the right one.

“We reviewed it closely,” Kane said.

“In real time, the umpires have made a decision that Stocker’s elected to go to ground and caused contact below the knees.

“They’re adjudicating that as forceful contact below the knees, which is the right call.

Liam Stocker was in pain but he gave away the free kick. Credit: Channel 7

“We’ve since reviewed that (with) many different angles, real-time speed, slow-mo, and we’re comfortable that they’ve landed in the right spot.”

But Cotchin still couldn’t get his head around it.

“For me, it should be play-on, and I think that becomes a really good contest where one player is desperate to go to ground, (but) Paddy had a different idea,” he said.

Selwood said the message is clear from the AFL.

“I think what Laura’s getting us to try and think about is that we need people to keep their feet,” he said.

“The game looks a lot better if Stocker is able to take the ball and then Paddy lays a big tackle.”

The Cats skipper was awarded the free for contact below the knees, much to the confusion of Seven’s commentators at the time.

“Stocker in unbelievable pain, meanwhile Dangerfield has the ball in hand,” Hamish McLachlan said on Saturday night.

Selwood added: “I don’t know about you guys, but I actually thought it was going the other way.”

Dangerfield hit Stocker with his knee as he flew over the top. Credit: Channel 7

Jobe Watson and Luke Darcy both agreed.

“I think this is the rule that needs to be generally looked at,” Darcy said.

“The ‘contact below the knees’ rule was brought in a number of years ago. We understand why, but what more can Liam Stocker do there, apart from attack the footy in that position?”

The rule was originally brought in to mitigate against injuries caused by players diving in recklessly at the ball on the ground after then-Sydney forward (now Geelong) Gary Rohan’s leg was shattered by former North Melbourne livewire Lindsay Thomas.

But it has been constantly criticised in the 12 years since because of the way it disincentivises players to be first to the ball when another player’s legs are in the vicinity.

Stocker’s effort on Saturday night resembled nothing of the Thomas-Rohan incident from 2012.

“He got hands on it first — wasn’t he first to the football? Or is that not how it’s ruled?” McLachlan asked rhetorically.

Selwood concluded: “It just all goes so fast. It’s definitely not a free kick. The umpires, just like the players, sometimes make mistakes.”

Stocker left the ground and took no further part in the game.

SEN’s Nic Negrepontis said he couldn’t believe it.

“If that’s a free kick against Liam Stocker, the rule needs to be reworked ASAP,” he said.

Brad Klibansky went a step further: “That’s a disgraceful free kick against Stocker. A player should never get punished for attacking and winning the ball first.”

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