Nathan Buckley highlights Angus Brayshaw detail as AFL great calls for Steven May suspension

Many around the AFL world have blasted the Melbourne Demons veteran.

Nathan Buckley has called on the AFL to suspend players like Steven May who 'stage' to win free kicks, declaring the Demons player's incident was so much worse when you consider what happened to former teammate Angus Brayshaw. May was hit with a $1250 fine on Sunday after feigning a head injury in order to win a free kick after a sling tackle.

The Demons veteran grabbed his head after being thrown to the ground by North Melbourne player Eddie Ford, but replays showed his head was never contacted and he was faking. On Sunday he was fined for staging by AFL match review officer Michael Christian, but many believe there needs to be a heavier punishment.

Angus Brayshaw, Steven May and Nathan Buckley.
Nathan Buckley (R) has questioned Steven May's actions (centre) - particularly in light of what happened to Angus Brayshaw (L). Image: Getty/Fox Footy

Discussing the incident on SEN radio on Monday morning, Collingwood great Buckley said actions such as those of May should draw at least a one-week suspension. Buckley also questioned what May was thinking considering former teammate Brayshaw was forced into an early retirement this year due to head knocks and concussion issues.

“Staging has been a part of the game," Buckley said. "I reckon I’ve got two bad ones I can remember. One where I threw myself to the ground in the goal square and I felt terrible. I can only imagine how Steven May is feeling right now, but that doesn’t escape the reality of what he chose to do.

“I actually think it’s on the worse level of staging for me because of what this rule is there to do. This rule is there to protect players, protect the head, it’s not there as just a rule of how we want the game to be played, it’s there for the protection of players.

Angus Brayshaw in 2023.
Angus Brayshaw suffered a heavy concussion in 2023 and was forced to retire from the AFL. Image: Getty

“The fact that a teammate of May’s in Angus Brayshaw has left the game because of concussive effects and they hand out an award at the end of every game in respects to Brayshaw, and that would be about courage and playing the game with the right demeanour. I think whatever the opposite of that is, I think that’s what Steven May did. I know he wouldn’t feel great about it and in 24 hours it will be gone.

“But I think anyone who accentuates head contact in a tackle and does it so blatantly like that, I think it should be a week. It should be elevated beyond a normal staging fine.”


Kane Cornes branded May's actions 'embarrassing', adding: “This one was different. It wasn’t a normal exaggeration of contact. There was no contact. He’s just made this up. He’s faked that his head has hit the ground.

“Whereas the normal staging ones, there is still some level of force or a nudge or a push and then you exaggerate the contact. This was creating something out of thin air to sucker the umpire in.

"I think May should speak today. I think Melbourne should put him up because I reckon there was one with Caleb Windsor that wasn’t as blatant as this late in the game where he also did something similar. So, if you’ve got a senior player doing something and then a first-year player doing similar, I think it’s important that the club stamps this out and May should speak today and be asked questions about that and I hope Melbourne put him up this week.”

Steven May, pictured here in action for the Demons against North Melbourne.
Steven May in action for the Demons against North Melbourne. Image: Getty

Former AFL match review panel member Nathan Burke said on Saturday: "I hope he (gets suspended) ... for embellishment. Staging, embellishment - whatever you want to call it.

"The umpire paid a dangerous tackle (but) his head did not hit the ground, yet he laid there holding his head. This game's hard enough for these umpires, let alone (with) players doing that and making it difficult for them. So the AFL are going to have to whack him."