AFL boss Laura Kane has hinted there could be a rule change at the end of the season after Collingwood star Brayden Maynard's incident against Melbourne has divided the sport. Maynard escaped a ban during the AFL finals after he collected Angus Brayshaw with his shoulder after leaping into the air in an attempt to smother a kick.
Counsel Andrew Woods argued that Maynard had made a conscious decision to bump Brayshaw after realising contact was unavoidable. The AFL tribunal found that Maynard's actions to try and spoil were "reasonable" in the split-second circumstances.
'EMBARRASSMENT': Eddie McGuire savaged over reaction to verdict
Maynard escaped punishment, with the likes of AFL great Kane Cornes in agreement with the controversial decision, and will be free to play the preliminary finals next week. The AFL confirmed on Wednesday it won't appeal the decision.
Unfortunately, Brayshaw will miss Melbourne's semi-final against Carlton and if they advance he will be a doubt the following week due to the head knock. Kane has admitted the incident in her first months of taking over as AFL boss has been an eye-opener and the league was disappointed with the outcome with many feeling Maynard should have copped a ban.
"The debate was a passionate one and ... it was a really difficult situation, difficult incident," Kane said on Wednesday evening. "It's really challenging for everybody involved, but we didn't feel there were grounds to appeal. If we did think there were grounds to appeal, we would have."
And the boss also hinted that the rules would be reviewed at the end of the year, which is not just a result of the smother incident. "I won't comment on one particular rule of the game, and reiterate that this situation was unique," she said.
There were reports Match Review Officer Michael Christian was fuming with the Maynard charge as he believed there was no case to answer for after Collingwood's win. And Kane attempted to quell the reprts and said there was no issue with him.
"In terms of what occurred on Friday, Chrisso is passionate. He's passionate about football. He's passionate about his role and he holds it at utmost importance," she added. "We worked through this incident and as you saw on Friday evening, we released a joint statement which referred this matter to the tribunal.
"There's no issue (with Christian). I won't enter into hypotheticals but I'm really comfortable with the model that we have. I was in regular contact with Michael all weekend."
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin admitted the outcome of the case was important as it would define how the AFL would judge duty of care for players in 'football acts'.
After the ruling, the AFL released a statement defending their decision to seek a ban for Maynard. "The health and safety of players in our game will always be the AFL's priority and regardless of the tribunal outcome this incident will be subject to close examination at the end of the season," the AFL said.
"The AFL has actively taken action to minimise the incidence of concussion in our game and has continued to make considered decisions to protect the health and safety of our athletes, including by making further rule changes to deter avoidable forceful head high contact in our game as has been done in over 30 instances over the past two decades."
AFL great Kane Corns agrees with tribunal decision
The tribunal decision pleased many Collingwood fans, Eddie McGuire and AFL analyst Cornes, who praised the decision. After the announcement Cornes tweeted: 'Never in doubt'.
Cornes blasted the league's suggestions that Maynard could have attempted to avoid contact and jumped upwards. He pointed out that the slow-mo didn't show just how fast Maynard reacted in the moment.
“Does he (Woods) not understand the trajectory of running at 22 kms an hour? You can’t run that fast, stop then jump upright. Clearly your momentum is going to carry you forward,” Cornes said on SEN Radio of the case against Maynard.
“It’s one of the more ridiculous arguments I’ve heard. That’s not personal, that’s just my view. Have you played the game? Have you run full speed trying to do the same thing or are you just watching it in slow-mo on a TV screen?”
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