D-Day for Dockers and Fyfe at AFL tribunal

Jason Phelan
Fremantle's Nat Fyfe is expected to plead guilty to a downgraded striking charge

Fremantle will almost certainly attempt to keep Nat Fyfe's Brownlow Medal hopes alive by pleading guilty to a downgraded charge.

The Dockers captain will head to the tribunal on Tuesday night to fight a one-game ban with his hopes of securing a second Brownlow Medal hanging by a thread.

AFL match review officer Michael Christian assessed Fyfe's crude forearm to the head of Collingwood's Levi Greenwood as intentional conduct with low impact to the head.

It is the intentional conduct element of the striking charge that is pivotal.

A finding of careless conduct with low impact to the head would have resulted in a fine, which would not have ruled Fyfe out of Brownlow contention.

"A raised forearm or elbow is usually conclusive that it is intentional," Christian told reporters.

"The ball goes over Nat's head, he runs at Greenwood, jumps off the ground and raises his forearm and makes forceful contact to Levi's head.

"Weighing up all the guidelines and rules around intentional versus careless, based on the overriding principle that a raised forearm is usually conclusive that a strike was intentional, (that) was how we graded it."

But there is enough grey area in determining a player's intent in a split-second decision to give Fremantle hope.

The club certainly seems to think they have strong grounds for appeal.

The Dockers announced they would take the charge to the tribunal almost before Christian finished publicly handing down his findings on Monday.

They had until 1100 (AEST) on Tuesday to launch an appeal, but did so just an hour after the sanction was made public.

Fyfe does not risk a longer ban if he is unsuccessful.

Unless he is able to have the sanction overturned he will be ineligible for a second Brownlow Medal, having previously won the award in 2015.

The 26-year-old had been sitting atop the Brownlow Medal betting charts having averaged just more than 30 possessions across 11 games and booted eight goals this season.

Fremantle will be docked $10,000 if the challenge is unsuccessful.

Fyfe was ineligible for the 2014 Brownlow because of suspension.

"I'm just trying to judge each incident on its merits," Christian replied when asked about assessing incidents involving Brownlow Medal favourites.

"(To) forget about the names of the players involved to try to make an assessment as best we can."

Fyfe will miss Sunday's clash against Adelaide at Optus Stadium if his charge is upheld.