Angus Brayshaw calls for AFL change as Demons reject ugly claim about Brayden Maynard

The Melbourne Demons player has been forced into retirement at age 28 after last year's sickening incident.

Angus Brayshaw and Brayden Maynard.
Angus Brayshaw has announced his retirement after the Brayden Maynard incident last year. Image: Getty

The Melbourne Demons have rejected claims there is any ill-will towards Brayden Maynard, amid calls from Angus Brayshaw for the AFL to be more proactive rather than reactive with issues relating to concussion. Melbourne Demons player Brayshaw has been left 'devastated' after he was forced to retire on Thursday, but had listened to advice from medical professionals that it was no longer safe for him to play.

Brayshaw suffered a number of concussions early in his career, but hadn't had any for six years until late in 2023. The 28-year-old was knocked unconscious by Maynard in Melbourne's clash with Collingwood in the first week of the finals, after Maynard jumped to smother the ball and came down with his shoulder to Brayshaw's head.

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Maynard was controversially cleared by the AFL tribunal because there weren't really any rules in place that made his actions illegal, but the league has since tweaked the laws in that regard. Brayshaw's retirement has inevitably sparked a chorus of criticism against Maynard, with many blaming the Collingwood player for Brayshaw's plight.

But according to Brayshaw, more needs to be done by the AFL to prevent more players ending up like him. "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."

Angus Brayshaw, pictured here after he was knocked out by Brayden Maynard.
Angus Brayshaw was knocked out by Brayden Maynard in the AFL finals. (Getty Images)

North Melbourne great David King also called on the AFL to re-think where the game is going and whether there needs to be greater protection for players. “I’m hoping this elevates the concussion discussion,” he wrote on social media.

“Angus Brayshaw’s decision would be incredibly tough to make, but it’s a moment in time for all to stop and assess our great game, its current rules, and embrace risk mitigation regarding head trauma. I’m sick of the nay-sayers”.

Melbourne great David Schwarz said on SEN radio: “I think it really sucks that a player like that has to give up the game because of a serious medical problem. Then you’ve got other players that take the mickey out of the game and flaunt the rules and get to play. From a supporter’s point of view, it’s devastation he can’t play.”

Angus Brayshaw and his partner Danielle.
Angus Brayshaw and his family have been heavily affected by the incident. Image: Getty

Demons boss rejects claims about Brayden Maynard

Speaking on Friday, the 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."

Many have argued that Brayshaw's history of concussion meant it was only a matter of time before he suffered a serious incident. He stepped away from the game in 2017 after copping four head knocks in the space of 12 months, but hadn't had any issues relating to his head until September.

Brayshaw revealed on Wednesday that recent scan results had shown changes to his brain since the Maynard incident. "Scans taken two weeks after the qualifying final against Collingwood compared to scans taken last week revealed further deterioration of my brain as a direct result of the incident I was involved in," he wrote.

"I am absolutely shattered and did not see this reality coming to pass. Whilst this medical retirement is devastating, I appreciate the severity of the situation as well as anyone. I respect the verdict of the medical professionals and agree with their desire to put the health of my brain before the future of my AFL career."

with AAP

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