Richmond gun Shai Bolton will miss two to three AFL games after he fractured his wrist in a nightclub fight as coach Damien Hardwick defended the midfielder’s call to step in to help teammate Daniel Rioli.
Hardwick confirmed Bolton had undergone surgery on Monday evening after suffering the injury in an altercation at the weekend, which the Tigers said started when Rioli’s girlfriend was “subjected to inappropriate behaviour” from a fellow nightclub patron.
According to a statement from the club, Rioli confronted the patron and was punched in the face, suffering a cut under his eye that required two stitches, with Bolton stepping in. Hardwick defended both players on Monday night.
“A player’s partner was put in an inappropriate situation that she didn’t feel comfortable with and Daniel stood up and tried to eradicate the situation and was punched in the eye,” Hardwick told Fox Footy.
“It was a difficult situation. It’s not one ideally we want to be in but the reality is we are where we are.”
Hardwick said while the duo were entitled to “live a life”, the incident was a reminder to AFL players they had to be careful and “these situations can occur if they go out”.
Bolton joins Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia and Kane Lambert on the sidelines, with Hardwick describing Richmond’s midfield as “obliterated”. Two-time premiership player Bolton has averaged 21.8 disposals and more than a goal a game this season, including six goals across his past two outings.
“It’s disappointing. He’s is in great form, there’s no doubt about that. He’s one of the form players of the competition,” Hardwick said.
Bolton, who is out of contract at season’s end, also hauled down a mark of the year contender in the Tigers’ loss to Geelong on Friday night. The reigning premiers sit 4-4, eight games into their bid for a fourth flag in five seasons.
Richmond face a resurgent GWS at Marvel Stadium this week, then travel to Brisbane to take on the Lions before returning to the MCG to host Adelaide.