Tom Hawkins phone use dealt with by AFL warning, Geelong Cats avoid punishment after Easter Monday clash

By Ben Glover and Emily Patterson

UPDATED: Geelong has been given an official warning by the AFL over Tom Hawkins’ use of a mobile phone during a prolonged delay in the Cats’ Easter Monday clash with the Hawks.

Hawkins was caught on camera holding a phone that was given to him by a club official, prompting an AFL investigation due to the blanket ban on players using mobile phones during games for integrity reasons.

The AFL has previously slapped Collingwood with a $20,000 fine for a similar incident, but chose a lighter sanction for Geelong due to the fact that the phone handed to Hawkins was given to him by one of the Cats’ 10 officials who is allowed to use a phone during games.

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“The Geelong Cats have today formally provided an explanation on the mobile phone use by player Tom Hawkins in the change room during the lightening break at yesterday’s match,” the AFL said in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

“The official who handed Hawkins the phone is one of the club’s authorised device users (each club has 10, plus four media staff), and he was showing Hawkins the weather radar.

“Geelong reinforced to the AFL that all player and staff phones (those not authorised device users), were securely locked in a case as per standard process to comply with the AFL rules.

“While the interaction was unintentional, it serves as an important reminder to all clubs that mobile phone usage is restricted to only authorised device users during the duration of a match.”

The Easter Monday clash was delayed because of severe weather around the MCG before Geelong ran away 36-point victors.

Just as the final term was set to start, with the Cats leading by 36 points, the umpires announced that the game would be delayed due to lightning and that the teams should return to their changerooms.

Under the league’s extreme weather policy, a match can be delayed up to an hour before the AFL must decide whether a game can be resumed.

The match restarted after a 40-minute break with the surrounding lightning clearing up.

The players were given an eight-minute warm-up out on the ground before the fourth term was started.

No lightning was spotted at the MCG during the delay but lightning was detected by the Bureau of Meteorology within 10km of the stadium, triggering the pause.

Rain continued to soak the ‘G but the Cats emerged with a 10.10 (70) to 17.4 (106) win.

In his 350th game, premiership forward Hawkins finished his milestone match with four goals and 12 disposals but he ran the risk of having his joy soured by a sanction the following day.

A precedent was set by the AFL during the 2021 season when Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey and Jeremy Howe were caught using their phones.

”While it appears entirely innocent, so was Jordan De Goey & Jeremy Howe’s similar action in 2021,” Morris wrote on X.

“On that occasion, Collingwood was fined $20,000. The league took a hardline stance for integrity reasons.”

The AFL’s rules around matters of integrity clearly state that there is to be no mobile phone use in the changerooms by anyone that is not an authorised device carrier.

While the Geelong staffer who handed Hawkins the phone on Monday was an authorised device carrier, Hawkins, as a player, was not.

Geelong’s win on Monday continued a hot start to the season, taking them to 3-0 while Hawthorn slumped to a 0-3 record.

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