Horror extent of Christian Petracca's injuries revealed as Demons ripped over 'deplorable' move

The Melbourne Demons' call to let their star player return to the field has been heavily scrutinised.

AFL fans are questioning Melbourne's decision to send Christian Petracca back onto the field against Collingwood, with the Demons star revealed to have suffered four broken ribs, lacerations to the spleen and a small puncture in his lung on Tuesday morning. Petracca copped a knee to the ribs from Darcy Moore in the first quarter of the King's Birthday clash on Monday and looked to be in agony.

He came off the field for treatment at the end of the first quarter, but went back on in the second term in a move that left many shocked. The Demons superstar was largely a passenger and looked like he didn't want to kick the ball, before he was put out of his misery and subbed out of the game at half-time.

Christian Petracca, pictured here after suffering a rib injury.
Christian Petracca was sent to hospital - but not before he tried to keep playing. Image: Channel 7/Getty

The 28-year-old was transferred to hospital by ambulance during the game. On Tuesday morning it was revealed Petracca sustained four broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and a punctured lung, and underwent surgery on his spleen on Monday night.

"Obviously, Christian's health is the No.1 priority for us at the moment," Melbourne football boss Alan Richardson said in a statement. "The next few weeks will be crucial, and we'll be monitoring his progress closely to make sure he heals properly and fully.

"As his recovery progresses, we will look towards a return to play timeline. He's obviously an extremely important player for the team, but his health and recovery are our top priorities right now."

Christian Petracca.
Christian Petracca looked to be in a lot of pain with a rib injury. Image: Getty

The brutal extent of his injuries only adds to furore that erupted over the Demons' decision to allow Petracca to return to the field. Demons coach Simon Goodwin explained it was 'standard procedure' with broken ribs to get some pain-killers and try to keep playing. Petracca wanted to test the injury out in the second quarter and see if he could keep playing, but only managed five disposals in the time he was back on the field.

Fans on social media were highly critical of the decision to send Petracca back out considering he risked an even more serious injury if he copped a heavy hit. Some suggested the decision should have been taken out of the player's hands if he wanted to keep going, with others noted that the Magpies kicked away to a big lead while Petracca was offering very little.

"If it was player’s decision then they should have not allowed it. He could have sustained lacerated kidney, lacerated spleen, or ribs, who knows? Hope he’ll be okay," one person wrote. Another commented: "Putting Petracca back on the field when he’s now off to hospital was a deplorable decision. This club is rotting."

Speaking in commentary for Fox Footy, David King said: “You can’t help but feel this is their season walking off the ground here. He’s the reason they score, he’s the reason their forward 50 corrects. The domino effect - the player that replaces him in the midfield or up forward is nowhere near that level. It’s pretty much Max Gawn or bust.”


The Demons have now lost four of their last five games - including an embarrassing 92-point loss to Fremantle last weekend - and have slipped to 10th on the ladder with a 7-6 record. But Goodwin played down concerns.

"We're optimistic that we're just going through a little patch at the moment that we need to work through and we'll come out the other side," the coach said. "But most teams will go through a little patch like we're going through.

"But we're very optimistic about what's possible as we move forward through this. There's some emergence of some young forwards working together more consistently that we'll look to continue on with and our method will continually get better."

Jack Viney and Melbourne Demons players.
Jack Viney and Melbourne Demons players look on after their loss to Collingwood. Image: Getty

Melbourne will give their players a break before returning from a bye next week to play North Melbourne. "It's a chance to do some training and get ourselves fresh and get ourselves really in a really good space," Goodwin said.

"This game, it's small margins in a lot of ways. It's never as bad and never as good (as it looks). And today we walk away losing a game of footy, but we walk away optimistic about our path forward. We don't sit here comfortable with where our game sits but we've got work to do and we get a chance to do it over the bye."

with AAP