The father of Melbourne Demons player Joel Smith has blasted the AFL tribunal's decision to clear Brayden Maynard as 'disgusting'. Maynard is free to play after the tribunal found he couldn't have reasonably avoided contact with Angus Brayshaw after a sickening collision that knocked the Demons player out.
AFL counsel Andrew Woods argued that Maynard had breached his duty of care when he collected Brayshaw with his shoulder after leaping into the air in an attempt to smother. Woods also argued that Maynard had made a conscious decision to bump Brayshaw after realising contact was unavoidable.
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But the AFL tribunal of chairman Jeff Gleeson, Scott Stevens and Darren Gaspar found that Maynard's actions were "reasonable" in the split-second circumstances. "He committed to the act of smothering when he was ... several metres from Brayshaw," Gleeson said in his findings. "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."
AFL decides not to appeal Brayden Maynard verdict
The AFL, who originally overruled match review officer Michael Christian and referred Maynard straight to the tribunal, have since revealed they won't appeal the decision. Melbourne great Shaun Smith, who was given a $1.4 million insurance payout in 2020 due to concussion symptoms, slammed the tribunal's verdict on social media.
JUST IN | The AFL has decided not to appeal the Maynard decision.
1300 736 736 to have your say on this development. pic.twitter.com/vrE669D1XS
— Dwayne's World (@DwaynesWorldSEN) September 13, 2023
“AFL you are an embarrassment and an absolute joke!!!!” he wrote. “Absolutely disgusting .... The AFL is a disgusting organisation ... I wonder who was on the take to clear this thug.”
Smith responded to a comment from another social media user, saying: “I’m sure you would say the same thing if it was your son…This thug KOs (knocks out) someone, potentially ending their career, and he gets off.”
Legal implications after Brayden Maynard decision
Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas had earlier highlighted the legal implications of the tribunal's call. “Sanity prevails," he tweeted in regards to the decision to clear Maynard. "AFL still considering appealing against decision.
“So they disputed and overturned MRO decision and sent it to tribunal. Now they’re considering challenging their tribunal decision. All for the 'look' as evidence against future litigation.”
Brayshaw’s brother Hamish said it would be “a little bit of an injustice” if the AFL didn't appeal. “Just because if it went the other way I’m sure that Collingwood would be appealing it,” he said on SEN radio.
“I’m not over the ins and outs of the tribunal but if you leave the ground to make contact with the face and 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 saying it’s going to set a precedent and it’s divided a lot of people. For me, at the end of the day, the outcome of that doesn’t bother me as much as the outcome of his health.”
Gleeson said players couldn't possibly assess all the different options available to them in such a short period of time. "It's asking a lot of a player to decide in a fraction of a second which of various ways to land in a high-speed collision, and which of those ways of landing might result in which type of reportable offence," he said. "We find he was not careless in either his decision to smother, or the way in which his body formed after his smother."
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