Garry Lyon slams Izak Rankine effort in Crows’ loss to Bombers

AFL great Garry Lyon had some choice words for Adelaide’s Izak Rankine during Friday night’s loss to the Bombers.

The 23-year-old Rankine has played predominantly as a small forward in his AFL career to date with the Suns and Crows, kicking 98 goals in 72 games prior to Friday’s match-up with Essendon.

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But he was shifted into the midfield against Carlton last week and was instrumental in Adelaide’s first victory of the season, labelled “a standout” by coach Matthew Nicks.

The third pick in the 2018 AFL draft was back in the middle against the Bombers, but he was quickly singled out by Lyon in a match Adelaide ultimately lost in a thriller, 10.18 (78) to 11.9 (75).

One incident in particular was highlighted by the Fox Footy host, when Todd Goldstein was awarded a free kick in the centre of the ground.

As Rankine’s opponent Darcy Parish bolted into the forward 50m arc, Rankine jogged forward before slowing to a walk.

Parish was then on the end of a centring kick and duly kicked the goal and Rankine’s lack of effort defensively came in for stinging criticism.

“Izak Rankine is always a great topic of conversation,” three-time All Australian Lyon began.

“If he’s going to go and play a role as a midfielder, he needs some cover or he’s got to take responsibility.

“This is an area he’s got to get right. If you want to go in the middle, all good and well.

“The free kick is given (to Goldstein), Rankine is a midfielder that’s going to push forward, we know that.

“But now you’ve got to defend. So Parish is the midfielder, Rankine goes ‘oh well, I’ve got to defend’ and he peels off.

“Parish continues to push, now Rankine says ‘well no one’s really covering for me’, he’s standing, watching.

“So Izak Rankine, all good and well, we love you going in the middle of the ground and you can be dangerous and all that.

“At some stage, you’ve got to take responsibility for your man and that is going to be the challenge going forward.”

Fellow Fox Footy expert Nathan Buckley agreed.

“You can only peel off, you should only peel off, when your teammate has you covered,” he stated.

Lyon then continued, stating even if Rankine ended up defending alongside another midfield teammate, that was a good result for the side.

“When you’re chasing tail like that, you go all the way into the grandstand,” he stressed.

“If there’s two of you that go, then that’s a great result as well.

“So Izak Rankine, there’s your challenge. If you want to go in the middle, sometimes you’re going to have to defend son.”

It was part of an action-packed game for Rankine, who was penalised for a sling tackle early in the third term.

Commentating on AFL Nation, Gerard Whateley suggested Rankine might be looked at by the Tribunal.

“That might be worse than just a free kick for Rankine there … I wonder what his community work is like,” he said.

Many, including Luke Hodge commentating, thought Rankine might have won the free for holding the ball before heaving his opponent into the turf and it sparked a debate on X.

“Pay the free kick earlier! Surely that’s holding the ball,” was one comment.

“Yeah but you can’t smash the bloke to the ground, bloody stupid,” replied another.

Brian Taylor wondered if Rankine had “been read the riot act at halftime about getting into gear” and he lifted his impact later in the contest.

The South Australian kicked a goal in the final term in a nailbiting finish to the match when both sides had their chances.

The Bombers then escaped a potential holding the ball call right at the death as they snatched a three-point win.

In the end Rankine had 12 disposals, five clearances and six tackles and debate is sure to continue about his best position for the Crows.

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