PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05: Andrew Gaff of the Eagles looks on at the break during the round 20 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium on August 5, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05: Andrew Gaff of the Eagles looks on at the break during the round 20 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium on August 5, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images)

AFL boss stuns ‘staggered’ legends

ANDREW Gaff's vicious hit on Andrew Brayshaw has been at the forefront of most conversations over the past 24 hours.

The sickening incident took place during the third quarter of West Coast's win over the Fremantle Dockers and saw Brayshaw taken from the stadium in the back of an ambulance.

He was left with a fractured jaw and displaced teeth and while Gaff looked a shell of a man following the punch, it matters little.

He was sent directly to the tribunal where he's expected to cop a suspension that could end his season. Just like Brayshaw's.

The fallout from the incident has been far reaching with prominent West Australian lawyer Tom Percy flagging the prospect of criminal charges being laid against Gaff.

Percy's views were backed up by Melbourne-based QC David Galbally.

West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett addressed the incident on Monday afternoon where he was quick to hit out at suggestions police action should be taken.

"Tom's comments were inappropriate and they inflamed the situation and we're very disappointed with what he had to say," Nisbett said. "Unfortunately they were made.

"You'd like to think that when you make those comments you try to take out the emotion of the situation. It's very difficult to do that but you also need to be extremely accurate if you're going to make comments like that.

"Some of those inflammatory comments by some people just are unwarranted."

The moment before the punch connects.
The moment before the punch connects.

With all eyes set to be locked in on the tribunal hearing Tuesday night, the big talking point surrounds just how long of a suspension he should receive.

Gerard Whateley, AFL 360 co-host and the voice of SEN, likened the incident to Barry Hall's infamous punch on Brent Staker but believed Gaff should receive a harsher penalty.

"This is as bad an incident as you can get in the modern game, it's a violent unprovoked punch," Whateley said on AFL 360.

"In 2008 Barry Hall received a 10-week suspension for his punch and regrettably under the system of the time he was afforded a 25 per cent discount for a guilty plea and served seven.

"My contention is we as a society have moved drastically in our attitudes to one-punch violence, and I think it's incumbent on the tribunal to reflect that community attitude and
thus I am at 12 weeks.

"It doesn't make Andrew Gaff a bad person and it doesn't define him, but he's answerable for his actions.

"And once he chose to throw the punch you give up a lot of rights in that moment."

Geelong coach Chris Scott then joined the panel and while he didn't put a number on it, he believes Gaff shouldn't take part for the remainder of 2018.

"He shouldn't play again this season. I think that's the base case at the moment. I was staggered when I heard he'd done it. He is one of the last players I'd expect to do that, but I'm not sure character plays a part in these situations," Scott said.

After horrific images of the punch and that of Brayshaw's mouth filtered out, the calls for the red card system being introduced in the game were brought sharply into focus.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like the system will be coming into the game any time soon, if Gillon McLachlan has anything to do with it.

"I'm happy with the judicial system we have and the accountabilities we have. I do believe players are held accountable and I do believe generally it is a deterrent for acts like that," McLachlan said on Channel 7's Talking Footy.

"I don't know that a red card would have changed anything about what happened yesterday, in terms of the action.

"He'll be held accountable the right way for something we do not want to see on our field at any time on any field across the country.

"I played in the amateurs where the send-off applied and there were inconsistencies there.

"I think if you did it you couldn't really go with a video referee, umpires would have to make a call on the spot.

"I think our system generally works very well. For one or two incidents a year, the deterrent is there.

"We don't see that stuff much in our game anymore. I think we have a system that works well generally."

A trainer rushes to the aid of Andrew Brayshaw after the punch.
A trainer rushes to the aid of Andrew Brayshaw after the punch.

Legends of the AFL in Garry Lyon, Paul Roos, Jonathan Brown and Gerard Healy addressed the red card matter on Monday's episode of On the Couch with all four men unified in their stance the introduction is now impossible to refuse.

"I can't argue against it, that's the difficulty now," Roos said.

"You go through the logic of it and you look at Sunday's incident on the back of a number of others and there is nothing that yesterday's situation does that doesn't improve the situation.

"It diffuses for both coaches; it diffuses for the fans who did or didn't see it; it evens up the integrity of the game. You can see even a distraught Andrew Gaff, it simplifies the game for him.

"Let's make it really clear, our thoughts are with Andy Bradshaw, that should never happen to him for a start. But talking about a red card, I can't find an argument against one."

"But talking about a red card, I can't mount an argument against it now."

The public opinion as it stands is behind the introduction of the system being brought in with 77 per cent stating the red card should exist.

"If we are your core audience then it's indicative of change. I'm like Roosy and I suspect Browny, I haven't been big on it but in fairness it probably works," Garry Lyon said.

"That's ok for us to thing about and you've (Gerard Healy) been campaigning for it for 10-years since Barry Hall, but Gil doesn't want it so it's not going to happen."

"I'm staggered in Gil, I know he's had his head in the sand on this particular issue for a long, long time and again on Channel 7 tonight," Gerard Healy said.

"I've heard the exact same quote five incident's ago, this isn't an isolated incident and it does nothing to address the integrity of the four quarters.

"It does nothing to address the integrity of losing a player."

Former Brisbane Lions hard nut Jonathan Brown then added what he believed to be was the key factor following incident's like what unfolded on Sunday.

"The biggest thing is the potential for retribution out on the footy field. I know if I was Andrew Gaff's teammate and especially if that was a Grand Final you'd be going looking for an eye for an eye that's for sure," Brown said.

"I think too in the modern game, there's a competitive disadvantage of being a man short especially if it happens early in the game, there two factors.

"I think there's no way of knowing if the umpires could make the decision, it would have to be up in the video review booth, but I wouldn't be against if it took a couple of minutes for the guys upstairs to look at it and say that player needs to be red carded and brought off the field."

Despite the majority of fans and now the media getting behind the idea of a red card being brought into the game, unless Gillon McLachlan comes to terms with it, don't expect to see the change any time soon.



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