Brayden Maynard verdict divides AFL world as Nathan Buckley rips Will Schofield

The Collingwood vice-captain is free to play after being cleared at the AFL tribunal.

Nathan Buckley and Brayden Maynard.
Nathan Buckley has taken a swipe at Will Schofield after Brayden Maynard was cleared by the AFL tribunal. Image: AAP/Getty

Nathan Buckley has taken a swipe at Will Schofield on social media after the former West Coast player expressed his anger that Brayden Maynard was cleared by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night. Maynard escaped suspension and is free to play despite his controversial hit that knocked out Angus Brayshaw.

AFL counsel Andrew Woods argued that Maynard had breached his duty of care when he leapt into the air in an attempt to smother Brayshaw's kick, before coming down and making contact with his shoulder to his opponent's head. Woods also argued that Maynard had made a conscious decision to bump after realising contact would be made.

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But the AFL tribunal panel of Jeff Gleeson, Scott Stevens and Darren Gaspar found Maynard's actions were "reasonable" in the circumstances. "He committed to the act of smothering when he was ... several metres from Brayshaw," Gleeson said in his findings. "We are not at all satisfied that a reasonable player would have foreseen that violent impact, or impact of the type suffered by Brayshaw, was inevitable or even likely."

The AFL revealed later on Wednesday that it won't appeal the decision, despite initially overruling match review officer Michael Christian. AFL bosses sent Maynard directly to the tribunal, despite Christian not wanting to charge him in the first place.

Nathan Buckley hits out at Will Schofield

West Coast premiership player Schofield, who had been predicting a ban for Maynard all week, was fuming over the decision. He'd earlier tweeted: "I think this Maynard case is very different if he actually smothers the ball. He didn’t smother the ball. Just jumped in the air and then knocked out an opponent.

"In the end, where you sit on this Maynard tribunal decision comes down to whether you like Collingwood or not. Let’s be honest."

After the decision he added: "Also while I’m at it. Jeff Gleeson, the chair of the tribunal this evening, is both independent and a Collingwood supporter. Somehow." Buckley, a former Collingwood player and coach, had clearly seen enough, responding: "Or you could have some integrity…."

AFL world divided over Brayden Maynard verdict

Buckley had previously called for Maynard to be cleared, saying: “I think we’ve got to understand that there have been players that have been suspended this year for acts that I don’t think are outside what you would expect a footballer to do. This idea of duty of care and this idea of protecting the head has had this groundswell of focus around it. We’ve seen players, in my view, that have been penalised and suspended for acts that I think that others have been let go of.

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“Tom McCartin got off what looked like it was a bump and Shane McAdam was somewhat concussed and had a depressed cheekbone. There were another couple that have taken place recently.

“Yes, we do get head contact that’s not penalised. We get some that is. There’s a lot of grey area here for me. Because if you went all-in on this duty of care and this medico legal issue around concussion and head knocks, you’d be rubbing out five or six players on potential damage to the head every week.”

Brayden Maynard, pictured here checking on Angus Brayshaw after the sickening incident.
Brayden Maynard checks on Angus Brayshaw after the sickening incident. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Kane Cornes was another high-profile former player who wanted Maynard to get off, however there were plenty more who didn't. ESPN reporter Matt Walsh tweeted: "AFL talks the talk on head injuries and duty of care, but hasn't walked the walk. This may set back attitudes towards avoidable head injuries by years."

Drew Jones of Fox Sports commented: "Tribunal made its decision, no worries. I believe Maynard is a fair player, and a great person. I’m not convinced that action should be allowed and not punishable. Brayshaw as the ball-carrier has a right to be protected from a potentially catastrophic head knock."

Carlton veteran Sam Docherty was in the Maynard camp. “I think there’s an inherent risk in playing AFL footy that sometimes in football actions people are going to get hurt, whether that’s concussion or other injuries. In my eyes, this was an unfortunate accident,” he said on AFL 360 after the verdict.

“He’s gone up in a game that’s very important to the football club to smother the ball on the way down, you’ve got 0.15 of a second to try and change your body position or get out of the way … the duty of care would’ve been to not jump and smother, but smothering in our game of footy is an integral part.

“I don’t think we’ll find too many situations where this will exactly happen, but there’s risk in playing – and that’s OK, we all go out there knowing that. It’s very unfortunate for Angus to be in the position he’s in, but I’m pleased he (Maynard) has got off.”

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