West Coast had to pull Andrew Gaff off the field after his shocking punch broke Andrew Brayshaw’s jaw, with furious Dockers players intent on revenge.
Gaff could be rubbed out for the rest of the AFL season after unleashing the blow in the third quarter of Sunday’s 21.16 (142) to 13.6 (84) win over the Dockers.
The punch came as Brayshaw merely blocked Gaff’s run about 25m off the ball.
Brayshaw dropped to the turf and lay there for an extended period, with blood pouring out of his mouth.
Fremantle confirmed Brayshaw’s jaw was broken and four teeth were displaced, with the first-year midfielder booked for surgery on Sunday night.
Gaff appeared to be crying after on the bench late in the third quarter, with coach Adam Simpson coming down to comfort him.
The midfielder returned to the field in the final term and continued to be targeted by Dockers players, and was eventually picked off by a fierce Michael Johnson bump.
Johnson, who retires at season’s end, could be suspended over the incident.
“I just want to apologise to Andy,” a remorseful Gaff told Fox Sports afterwards.
“I feel sick. I did the wrong thing and it doesn’t indicate my character.
“My only thought is how Andy is and what will happen (to me) will happen.”
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said he was distressed by the incident and referred to Barry Hall’s seven-week ban for a punch on Brent Staker in 2008 as a precedent for what the tribunal might hand down.
“Andrew Brayshaw was king-hit 100m off the ball,” Lyon said.
“I’ve got an 18-year-old kid that I saw in a real mess when I came down to the rooms and his mum in tears as I was walking in. It’s not very palatable.
“He was pretty distraught. I gave him a hug. I wouldn’t like to see my son like that.
“My senior players certainly wanted retribution and I had to stay out on the ground longer at three-quarter time to settle a couple down.”
Simpson said the incident was out of character for Gaff.
“One thing I know is that Andrew’s character and who he is as a person and a player can’t be questioned,” Simpson said.
“As much as it is going to look as though it was intentional, I’m not really sure it was.”