Mick Malthouse has hit back at AFLW marquee player Moana Hope. Picture: Ian Currie
Mick Malthouse has hit back at AFLW marquee player Moana Hope. Picture: Ian Currie

AFL great slams women’s star over attack on Malthouse

CONTROVERSIAL AFL great Jason Akermanis has dismissed the protest from an AFLW star over Mick Malthouse's "disgusting" speech, saying she has got it all wrong.

Malthouse, the premiership-winning coach and West Coast Eagles' Hall of Fame member, came under fire on Thursday after his comments during a footy lunch in Ballarat sparked a sensational walkout from star AFLW marquee player Moana Hope.

On Friday, Malthouse also hit out at Hope's criticism by declaring the AFLW star had "overreacted".

The controversy surrounds Malthouse's declaration that Aussie rules is a "man's game" and suggestion female players should be playing under a different set of rules to reduce injuries.

 After she stormed out of the function, Hope sensationally declared in a post on Instagram she had been left "embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated and disgusted" by comments made by Malthouse.

Akermanis was sitting on the panel of experts, alongside Hope and former Footscray, West Coast, Collingwood and Carlton coach Malthouse, and dramatically declared on Friday morning that Hope showed "inexperience" by storming off.

Akermanis added a twist to the scandal during an interview with SEN's Breakfast with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson. He said Malthouse's critical comments surrounded the AFL - not the AFLW.

"He was bagging the AFL," Akermanis said.

"He doesn't like certain things, he thinks they've stuffed it up and he's not going to hide it. He doesn't like the 18m rule for the goal-square length - I mean that's just bloody ridiculous."

Moana Hope, right, and partner Isabella Carlstrom. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Moana Hope, right, and partner Isabella Carlstrom. Picture: Tim Carrafa

Akermanis, who has been involved in more than his fair share of public controversies over his outspoken views, said he didn't believe Malthouse was disrespectful to the AFLW, adding Hope's response to his comments showed her "inexperience" on the public speaking circuit.

"I think that's a bit strong," Akermanis said when told of Hope's Instagram post.

"I thought her reaction was one of inexperience. You want to have people on stage that will give you a different opinion that you're probably not going to like. We've all done it. We've all been there.

"Mick is a great guy to talk footy. He's a great human being. So to sort of attack Mick on a personal level and say he's not a nice person is a bit strong.

"I think Mo just hadn't been in these situations much. And I think in about five to seven years when she's been through the circuit a bit more she'll probably be a bit more relaxed and I reckon she'll see it a bit differently."

He said he could see Hope growing frustrated on stage as Malthouse continued to give his thoughts on the development of the AFLW.

"I was a bit like, 'Oh my god, this is getting a bit serious'," he said.

"So I just sort of chucked in a joke and tried to lighten the mood, but she wasn't having a bar of it. And then Mick said if they go 6-6-6 (a positional rule change being considered by the AFL) it's going to be like bloody netball.

"And then you could see her face, she sought of screwed her nose up. We were nearly finished the chat, we were on stage for about 20 to 25 minutes and then I look over and she's put the mic down on the stool.

"She's walked past Mick and Christi (Malthouse). Walked down to the table sitting right at the front of the stage, grabbed her coat and walked out. I thought that's a bit weird.

Cameron Williams and Jason Ackermanis at the Legends of Sport Luncheon at Jupiters Pavillion on  April 7.
Cameron Williams and Jason Ackermanis at the Legends of Sport Luncheon at Jupiters Pavillion on April 7.

"I didn't think too much of it. I just thought either she's got work or she's a bit upset. It doesn't matter and then I get stuck in traffic in Melbourne and she's really given Mick a whack across the chops."

Malthouse also supported Akermanis's explanation of what unfolded at the luncheon when he was interviewed on Channel 9's Today Show on Friday morning.

He said he was asked two separate questions during the function about proposed AFL rule changes and the development of the AFLW - and suggested Hope failed to listen to the two separate explanations.

"I wish she would have listened to the questions," he said.

The 65-year-old went on to say he supported the women in his family playing football but believed the AFL needed to do more to protect players from injuries across all levels of women's' football .

A post from Isabella Carlstrom on Instagram.
A post from Isabella Carlstrom on Instagram.

He said Hope "overreacted" to his comments.

"I don't like its present format where the casualty wards are full of young girls after games. It worries me," he said.

"She overreacted. First and foremost in those (interview) formats, you have got to listen to the questions. There were two questions. One about the rules and one about women's football. Don't mess them both up because when you mix them up like that, inevitably we start talking about it at home.

"Unfortunately for Mo, she only got one part of it right."

Hope was fuming at Malthouse's comments.

"He said that AFL was a man's game and not a woman's game and he's said that on stage in front of 50 kids who had just played a boys and girls game of football," she told the Herald Sun on Thursday.

Malthouse had also said that if the AFL introduced 18m goal squares and six-player zones - a hot topic of contention in the footy world - players should "wear skirts".

"I left after that I was so disgusted and drove back to Melbourne. He can have an opinion but then there's just degrading and disrespectful comments," Hope said.

"We're in 2018, not in 1942. I've been told he was an amazing coach but I don't think he's much as a person. I will never be in the same room as him again.

"I woke up at 5am this morning and rode 20km in preparation for next season. I'm working my backside off for AFLW."

Malthouse fired back instantly, slamming Hope's "unprofessional" conduct at the event and insisting his comments weren't aimed at female footballers.

"It was very, very unprofessional," Malthouse said via AFL.com.au.

"If she cared to listen instead of looking at her phone for most of the event, she would understand.

"Apparently she's had a crack at me in terms of what I said about netball.

"(I was saying) the new rules are similar to netball, in other words, positioning. Not one word about female football, females or anything else."

Hope hit back later in the night with a fresh post on Instagram.

"I love OUR game and I will never, ever let anyone tell me or any girl that we don't belong or deserve to pull this jumper on at this level. We are one," she wrote.

An anonymous source inside the room revealed Malthouse didn't mean to cause offence. His comments regarding players wearing skirts were a reference to netball's similar method of dividing the playing area into zones.

"He said there's already a game that looks like that and they wear skirts and it's called netball," the source said.

Hope's partner Isabella Carlstrom joined the storm and slammed Malthouse on Instagram, labelling his comments "sickening" after Hope walked out of the function.

"How can this man be paid to attend a function and put women down so badly that @moanahope puts the mic down and walks out of a room full of people. Degrading women of the AFLW #disgusting," she wrote.

"I cannot believe what this disgrace of a man said while on stage in front of so many young kids and my partner."

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