Demons coach shrugs off Fritsch criticism

Melbourne's Bayley Fritsch has been accused of being a "faux tough guy" of the AFL but his coach has no issue with the forward's approach to the game.

BAYLEY FRITSCH of the Casey Demons.
BAYLEY FRITSCH of the Casey Demons. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty Images

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has leapt to Bayley Fritsch's defence after criticism of the Demons' leading goal-kicker as a "faux tough guy" of the AFL.

A bump by Fritsch in a marking contest during last Saturday night's draw at the MCG left Hawthorn defender Denver Grainger-Barras nursing a sore shoulder and drew the ire of former Hawks champion Dermott Brereton.

But Goodwin had "completely no issue" with the incident and backed Fritsch's approach.

"He's doing everything right," Goodwin said.

"People look for things to talk about and clearly this is a thing that people have wanted to talk about, but it's not an issue from my perspective.

"Bayley's the cleanest, fairest player that I've come across and he'll continue to be that way.

"It's his nature, that's the way he plays his footy."

Speaking on SEN this week, Brereton said Fritsch had "picked off" Grainger-Barras and listed other incidents where he felt the Melbourne forward should have attracted further scrutiny.

On one occasion Fritsch pushed Essendon's Nick Hind into a post, while in another he caught North Melbourne's Tom Powell with a high fend-off.

Fritsch was offered a one-match ban for striking Powell but had it overturned at the tribunal.

"Bayley Fritsch is a serious player, but he has some form when he's taken on the opponent when perhaps that's not what he should have been doing," Brereton said.

Fritsch leads Melbourne's goal-kicking with 35 goals from 16 matches this season and sits eighth on the Coleman Medal leaderboard.

He will again form a crucial part of the Demons' attacking mix when they take on the Western Bulldogs in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday night.

Fritsch kicked three goals when Melbourne beat the Bulldogs by 28 points in round 11.