The Richmond Tigers believe Daniel Rioli was defending his girlfriend when he and teammate Shai Bolton were injured in a nightclub altercation last weekend.
Bolton will miss two-to-three AFL games after he fractured his wrist in the fight, while Rioli was punched in the face, suffering a cut under his eye.
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However Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has defended the pair, saying Bolton came to help Rioli after the latter stepped in to defend girlfriend DJ Paris Lawrence.
Hardwick confirmed that Bolton had undergone surgery on Monday evening, saying the fight started when Rioli's girlfriend was "subjected to inappropriate behaviour" from a fellow nightclub patron.
Rioli confronted the patron and was then punched in the face, with Bolton stepping in after that.
On Monday night, Hardwick said he believed many people would have reacted the same way.
"A player's partner was put in an inappropriate situation that she didn't feel comfortable with and Daniel stood up and tried to eradicate the situation and was punched in the eye," Hardwick told Fox Footy.
"I don't condone violence but the reality is, you put anyone in that situation, they're going to stand up for their partner and their mates and Shai was the same.
"So, look, it was a difficult situation. It's not one ideally we want to be in but the reality is we are where we are."
Hardwick said football bosses Tim Livingstone and Blair Hartley had spoken at length with Bolton and Rioli and the Tigers were "absolutely" confident there was no wrongdoing on their behalf.
"We've got to the bottom of it - the evidence we've got and the story we have," he said.
"So from our point of view, we back in the players."
Hardwick said while the duo were entitled to "live a life", the incident was a reminder to AFL players they had to be careful and "these situations can occur if they go out".
Richmond facing midfield injury crisis
Bolton joins Trent Cotchin, Shane Edwards, Dion Prestia and Kane Lambert on the sidelines, with Hardwick describing Richmond's midfield as "obliterated".
Two-time premiership player Bolton has averaged 21.8 disposals and more than a goal a game this season, including six goals across his past two outings.
"It's disappointing. He's is in great form, there's no doubt about that. He's one of the form players of the competition," Hardwick said.
Bolton, who is out of contract at season's end, also hauled down a mark of the year contender in the Tigers' loss to Geelong on Friday night.
The reigning premiers sit 4-4, eight games into their bid for a fourth flag in five seasons.
Richmond face a resurgent GWS at Marvel Stadium this week, then travel to Brisbane to take on the Lions before returning to the MCG to host Adelaide.
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