Emotional Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe says he’s thrilled “remorseful” teammate Brayden Maynard has been cleared by the AFL tribunal while lamenting the length of time between incident and verdict and the subsequent “villain” commentary.
Maynard on Tuesday night was sensationally found not guilty of rough conduct against Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw, meaning he’s free to play in the Magpies’ preliminary final.
Howe was appearing live on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 when the tribunal’s verdict on Maynard’s attempted smother broke.
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A classy and composed Howe said he was pleased for his teammate, but also sympathetic towards Brayshaw, who was subbed out of Thursday’s qualifying final with concussion.
“You’re obviously happy the result landed that way for us,” Howe told AFL 360.
“It doesn’t make you feel better with what happens with Angus and how he’s feeling at the moment. But clearly for us, he’s an important player and the club felt like it had a case that was going to be strong enough to get the result.”
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Howe said he understood the industry-wide concern and new-found approach towards concussion, but claimed Maynard’s attempted smother that led to Brayshaw being knocked out was a “completely different scenario”.
“Even as players, the education and the way that it is trending with the head trauma with players not only playing now but also in the past, with the bumping and the tackling they picked up on a large trend and had enough information around what was happening with that – and I feel like we’ve been able to eradicate that and suspensions are being upheld,” Howe said.
“But I feel like this one was a completely different scenario in terms of the way it unfolded … Coming off the front of the square and people exiting out the front of stoppage happens 25 times a game. Do you jump up and have that same effect? I daresay ‘Bruzzy’ probably won’t next time, but things like that can happen.
“But I feel like the trend of the game was tackling and bumping because we had multiple concussions with those scenarios, this is just a different kettle of fish.”
Asked if he was emotional following the Maynard verdict, Howe said: “Well it happened on Thursday to someone who’s so loved at the club. I just feel like the way he’d been treated … he’s been treated like a villain in the whole scenario. He plays in an aggressive manner, but he is the most caring human you’ll ever get.
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“The way that unfolded from Thursday to Tuesday is a hell of a long time for him to be able to process it and there’s a lot of noise around it. It would’ve been great if it happened on the Friday night – I know that probably can’t happen – but it’s been a long five days and I’m just really glad about the result because I feel like he can actually get a night’s sleep and take a breath.
“He was so remorseful by getting in contact with the family and Angus and Angus’ partner – that’s the kind of guy he is. Regardless of who he is, he’ll always do that stuff.”
AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson on Monday night reported there was “angst” among the Brayshaw camp, adding there were “a few people close to Angus who believe that was a deliberate act by Maynard to hurt Angus Brayshaw”.
Asked how by Robinson how that accusation sat with him, Howe said: “Not well at all. He doesn’t do that. He tackles aggressively as anyone, but he’s not going out there trying to knock someone out.
“I don’t think anyone can draw those kinds of conclusions. He trains aggressively as well – and that’s what we love about him.”