Magpies young gun Jack Ginnivan has revealed the intense commentary around his game has “definitely taken a toll on my mental health,” but says he has strong support around him.
Ginnivan was at the center of more debate from the football world after being involved in a contentious umpiring decision during his side’s 10th consecutive win over Port Adelaide on Saturday.
It put the 19-year old in the spotlight yet again, having made headlines all season for his polarizing approach and ability to draw free kicks.
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And Ginnivan admitted the heavy scrutiny has affected him in a brutally honest post-game interview.
“It’s definitely taken a toll on my mental health and all that stuff, but I’m here, happy, smiling, when you’re kicking goals and winning it’s beautiful, so (I) can’t complain,” Ginnivan told Fox Footy .
“I’ve got some strong leaders around me, Darcy Moore, Callum Brown is one of my best mates, he’s looking after me.
“My mum, my family are so amazing, they’re up here every week, so I can’t complain. ‘Fly’ (Craig McRae), he’s a beautiful human, I love him to bits and he’s looking after me day by day.”
The latest controversial umpire call on Ginnivan came midway through the second term of Collingwood’s narrow win over the Power at the MCG after the forward took possession of the ball inside forward 50.
Ginnivan then appeared to turn into a Robbie Gray tackle and get taken high, prompting the umpire to pin the Magpie for holding the ball.
Collingwood fans were vocal in letting their thoughts be known, booing loudly after the decision.
“Every time he’s tackled there’s a question among football fans,” Fox Footy commentator Mark Howard said.
It came after the AFL recently announced a crackdown of high contact interpretation for players who duck or shrug into a tackle, with umpires now instructed to pay holding the ball.
But just last week the league admitted Ginnivan should’ve been awarded a free kick for a tackle laid on him by Essendon’s Mason Redman, but said the Magpie was responsible for the high contact.
It prompted AFL legend Leigh Matthews to say he felt so “sick” and “disturbed” after watching Ginnivan not receive a free kick for the Redman tackle that he couldn’t sleep, declaring the “fabric of the game is being attacked” in passionate Pull on 3AW.
Although St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt said he believed the umpire made the right call in paying the free kick against Ginnivan during Saturday’s clash against Port.
It came amid a strong first half from Ginnivan, booting three goals, with Riewoldt praising the youngster for performing while under so much scrutiny.
“We’ve lost our minds over the last couple of weeks and this young man has been at the center of it,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy at halftime.
“You’ve got to love the fact he comes out here on the biggest stage and with all the noise, all the talk, despite the fact he’s only a 19-year-old kid, he comes out this quarter and he absolutely lights it up.
“It’s just awesome to watch. I don’t think we’ve spoken about a 22-gamer as much as we have this guy and what has maybe gotten a lost a little bit in all of it is just how well he’s been playing.”
Former Magpies coach Nathan Buckley also thought the incident was well umpired.
“There was the one that wasn’t paid inside the forward 50 and he was a metre-and-a-half from the Port Adelaide defender and knew what he was going to do before he got there,” he said.
“There wasn’t any evasive action taken. I think that one was fair enough, as was the one on the wing.”
Triple M commentator Brian Taylor noted: “I think he’s been given life, Ginnivan! I don’t think he’ll receive a free kick again,” while others on social media were less than satisfied with the officiating of the play.