Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray will miss round one after the tribunal upheld match review officer Michael Christian’s view that his high bump on West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern was worthy of a one-match suspension.
It was a clear warning to the competition.
AFL footy chief Steve Hocking’s revamped match review process was put to the test at the tribunal for the first time on Tuesday night.
Christian charged Gray with rough conduct for his high bump on McGovern in Sunday’s pre-season game at Leederville Oval.
Port’s legal team argued Gray had braced for impact rather than deliberately bumped McGovern, who was treated for a concussion.
But after just six minutes of deliberation, tribunal members Wayne Henwood, Richard Loveridge and Michael Jamison ruled against the Power.
Under the new system, Port didn’t risk increasing the ban with an unsuccessful trip to the tribunal but they did forfeit a $10,000 fee that counts against their football department’s soft cap with the decision.
Gray and club legal counsel Mark Griffin QC appeared via video link from Adelaide for the hearing at Etihad Stadium.
Griffin argued Gray had just 1.28 seconds from the time the ball bounced to contact between the pair and had no alternatives available to him.
“I tried to slow down, I braced, pulled my arm in and tried to protect myself and minimise the impact as much as I could,” Gray said in his evidence.
But – as it was under the old match review panel-tribunal process – the head is sacrosanct.
“When you elect to bump you must do it fairly,” Christian said on Monday after he assessed the act as careless, high contact with medium impact.
McGovern lay dazed on the turf after Gray’s right shoulder made contact with the side of his head.
He left the field under his own steam but was assessed for a concussion and didn’t return.
The Eagles said medical assessment was ongoing on Monday and it was unclear how much training or how many games, if any, the star defender would miss.
AFL legal counsel Andrew Woods successfully argued Gray could have taken alternative action – either contest the ball or tackle McGovern – and he laid a bump rather than braced for impact.
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