West Coast coach Adam Simpson has come out in support of under-fire star Andrew Gaff after his shocking jaw-breaking punch.
Simpson believes Gaff was merely trying to whack Andrew Brayshaw in the chest when he broke the Fremantle midfielder’s jaw on Sunday.
Gaff will front the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night over his unprovoked punch that has rocked the AFL.
The 26-year-old is almost certain to be rubbed out for the rest of the AFL season, and maybe even the early part of next year.
Brayshaw underwent surgery on Sunday night, and won’t be able to eat solid food for the next four weeks.
Gaff had been widely regarded as one of the AFL’s fairest players before his brain fade in the western derby.
Simpson doesn’t believe Gaff meant to punch Brayshaw in the face.
“Well, hand on heart, and knowing Andrew and speaking to him post game, he legitimately said to me he didn’t mean to hit him in the head,” Simpson told Channel 7.
“We need to own the incident, and he did, and there’s going to be consequences.
“But I think about 30 seconds before (the punch) he hit him in the chest, and I think he tried to do the same thing and got it horribly wrong.”
Simpson said Gaff was struggling to come to terms with what he had done.
“Andrew is devastated. He’s really disappointed in himself and he’s let himself down, and the club,” Simpson said.
“But he’s not the victim of course, we know that, our thoughts are with Andrew Brayshaw.”
“I think it was grossly out of character, and something that Andrew is very disappointed in.
“We need to own it, and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The likely loss of Gaff for the rest of the season is a huge blow to West Coast’s premiership hopes.
The Eagles currently sit two wins clear in second spot, and face a crunch clash with Port Adelaide in Adelaide on Saturday.
Gaff had been in career-best form this season, and he’ll now join star ruckman Nic Naitanui on the sidelines for the rest of the year.
Spearhead Josh Kennedy (shin) is unlikely to be fit to take on the Power.
“It’s going to be hard not having Gaffy,” Eagles midfielder Elliot Yeo said.
“Andrew’s a really good player for us, and what he brings is going to be sorely missed.
“But we have confidence that the kids we have coming through will be able to fill the role that Gaffy’s been playing.”