Sam Powell-Pepper bump sparks AFL storm after devastating Angus Brayshaw retirement

The Power forward is in hot water over an incident that left his opponent concussed.

Pictured left to right, Port Adelaide AFL star Sam Powell-Pepper and Mark Keane.
Port Adelaide AFL star Sam Powell-Pepper is in hot water over his bump on Adelaide's Mark Keane. Pic: Getty/Fox Footy

A controversial bump from Sam Powell-Pepper has sparked backlash across the AFL world after the Port Adelaide forward concussed Adelaide's Mark Keane in a practice match on Friday. The incident comes with the game still reeling from the retirement of Melbourne Demons star Angus Brayshaw, who was forced to walk away from the sport at 28 because of repeated concussions.

With head knocks and duty of care to opposition players at the forefront of the sport at the moment, Powell-Pepper's actions against Keane couldn't have come at a worse time for the Power star. The Port forward faces a suspension after collecting Keane's head with a hip-and-shoulder bump in the first quarter of the drawn trial game at Alberton Oval.

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Keane had possession of the footy at the time and was caught in a Willie Rioli tackle that swung the Crows player around as Powell-Pepper charged in from another angle. Powell-Pepper's right shoulder struck Keane on the right side of his head, leaving the Crows player visibly dazed and needing assistance to be taken from the field.

Port have another trial game next weekend but any possible suspension to Powell-Pepper would be served in the premiership season. The Power forward's fate will ultimately lie in the hands of the Match Review Officer and how the bump and impact of Powell-Pepper’s high hit is graded.

"We know the way Pep plays, he's hard and tough, but I can't comment on the actual contest," Port assistant coach Chad Cornes said. There were suggestions Keane may have suffered a broken jaw but Adelaide assistant coach Scott Burns said it was too early to tell post-game. "Honestly, I haven't seen him or checked with the doctors so I can't really answer that," Burns said.

AFL world reacts to Sam Powell-Pepper bump

The incident is also further blow to Adelaide's depleted stocks of tall defenders, with Keane now out for the next 12 days as part of the AFL's concussion protocols. As for Powell-Pepper, the Port Adelaide's actions have landed him in the crosshairs of commentators and fans, coming so close to the retirement of Brashaw.

"Oh boy. Powell-Pepper has the chance to tackle. He plants his feet and knocks his opponent into next week. Ignores everything the AFL is asking players to consider about duty of care," AFL reporter Jon Ralph posted on social media. Another user added: "Sam Powell-Pepper taking the absolute piss, one day after another player had to retire from AFL due to concussion."

The Power's AFL campaign starts with a home match against West Coast on March 17, with Powell-Pepper now in serious danger of being rubbed out. The incident came little more than 24 hours after the devastating news that Demons forward Brayshaw had been forced to end his career prematurely, due to health concerns.

Angus Brayshaw calls for AFL to do more on concussions

Brayshaw admits he was "devastated" to have been forced to retire on Thursday but listened to advice from medical professionals that it was no longer safe for him to play. The 28-year-old has since called for the AFL to be more proactive rather than reactive with issues relating to concussion.

Pictured right is Angus Brayshaw and Brayden Maynard on the left.
Angus Brayshaw has announced his retirement after the Brayden Maynard incident last year. Image: Getty

"We have made great strides in this space, but there is more that needs to be done to safeguard the brains of players not only in the AFL ranks, but from grassroots all the way up," he wrote in an open letter published on Melbourne's website on Wednesday. "I believe the future of our game will be strongly impacted by how we deal with this element of player safety as more information comes to light. I hope the AFL will be proactive in the future when it comes to the safety of its players as opposed to reactive, so we can continue to enjoy this amazing game and protect the brains of the players. They must be sacrosanct."

Melbourne Demons football boss Alan Richardson shot down claims the club holds any resentment towards Maynard. " I have not had a sense of that at all," he said on 3AW radio. "Certainly in the last few days, after dealing with Gus (Brayshaw) and his family and the way Gus spoke to the group today, it was more a bit of a shock... that's the overriding emotion. I wouldn't say there is any resentment or anger at all."

with AAP

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