Brayden Maynard is free to play in the AFL preliminary final and few were happier than Eddie McGuire, despite one lingering question.
Evidence was heard for three hours before an hour of deliberations but the Tribunal found that Maynard’s action was “reasonable” after his smother on an Angus Brayshaw kick went so wrong.
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It was the first quarter of Thursday night’s qualifying final when Maynard attempted to smother, but collided with Brayshaw, leaving the Demons star reportedly unconscious for two minutes.
While it was great news for the Collingwood faithful, it’s potentially not over with the AFL able to send it to the appeals board.
It wouldn’t be a shocking move either after AFL executive general manager of football Laura Kane sent the football world into a frenzy after sending the incident directly to the Tribunal under her name rather than under Match Review Officer Michael Christian.
But as it stands, Maynard will be able to play in next week’s preliminary final against the winner of Port Adelaide and GWS at the MCG.
It clearly went down well with former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who was at a dinner.
Ex-Collingwood and Carlton star Dale Thomas posted a video on Instagram Stories with McGuire standing up and tapping his glass before saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, justice has been done. Brayden Maynard is free to play for the Pies.”
One of the people at his table added through laughter: “Sit down dad.”
Collingwood GM of football Graham Wright spoke after the decision and passed well wishes to Brayshaw.
He said it had been a “long four or five days” for the club and Maynard.
Asked if the club had done any work if the AFL do challenge the decision, Wright said: “That’s up to the AFL.
“I think that’ll be tomorrow if that’s the case. But we thought Jeff Gleeson’s (AFL Tribunal chair) summation of the Tribunal hearing and what we put forward as evidence and what the AFL put forward as evidence was really clear. So we’re hopeful that this is it.”
AFL 360 host Gerard Whateley said that he didn’t believe the AFL would go down the path of sending it to the Appeals board.
“I think that was thoroughly tested, the rules against the incident, the two cases on merit, there were no errors that I could detect,” Whateley said.
“I think they did their bit, they put it up, Collingwood’s defence proves too strong, leave it be.”
But Hamish Brayshaw, the brother of Angus who pointed to the fact the result would have “set a precedent for a long time, whether he gets off or whether he doesn’t”, said the AFL should appeal.
Speaking on SEN’s Sportsday, Hamish said: “I probably would be .
“I think if it went not guilty and no one appealed it from their end, I think it would be a little bit of an injustice because if it goes the other way, I’m sure Collingwood will be appealing it,” he said.
“I’m not over the ins and outs of the Tribunal but if you leave the ground and make contact with the face, you knock someone out, that’s been the way it’s been.
“I understand it’s different with the pressure of a final and all the rest of it … there’s been a lot of people say it’s going to set a precedent and it’s divided a lot of people.
“For me, really at the end of the day, that doesn’t bother me as much of the outcome of (Angus’) health but it’s certainly one I’ll be paying close attention to.”
Social media quickly erupted and continued to be just as divided as it has been all week.
However, Port Adelaide 300-gamer Kane Cornes hit out at the AFL’s arguments after the league’s counsel Andrew Woods claimed that conduct was “unreasonable” and questioned why Maynard didn’t jump more upright and should have either kept his arms up or cushioned the blow by wrapping his arms around Brayshaw.
Cornes clearly disagreed.
“I think Brayden Maynard’s done a pretty good job – from what I’m reading in the live updates – in his evidence to defend himself … he’s basically said it was an instant decision … he’s calling it a flinch and it is more of a flinch than a brace or anything,” Cornes told SEN’s Sportsday.
“(But) Andrew Woods for the AFL has been very unrealistic with what he’s suggesting Brayden could have done.
“Does he (Woods) not understand the trajectory of running at 22km/h? You can’t run that fast, stop then jump upright. Clearly your momentum is going to carry you forward.
“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?”
Similarly, before the decision was handed down Gerard Healy questioned the call from Kane to refer it directly to the Tribunal.
“How can Laura Kane call Brayden Maynard’s incident a bump, when the AFL were happy to accept Tom Lynch’s was a brace just a few months ago. It’s illogical and reeks of rules on the run, which as far as a player is concerned is chaos leading to potential injustice,” Healy said.
Gleeson and the Tribunal found “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 finding also claimed Maynard was “not careless in either his decision to smother or the way in which his body formed”.
While also citing evidence of biomechanist Professor Michael Cole, who stated: “Once airborne, Maynard had no opportunity to avoid the collision.”
He also said that Maynard’s body position when he appeared to brace himself wasn’t a conscious decision and that once he jumped, he was “essentially a projectile”, “like a frisbee with arms and legs”.