Trent Cotchin under fire over 'poor' incident in AFL pre-season game

The Richmond Tigers are bracing for the potential absence of Trent Cotchin for their round one clash with Carlton.

Trent Cotchin is circled in red wrestling with James Harmes on the left, and looking to pass to a teammate on the right.
Trent Cotchin could potentially miss Richmond's AFL season opener after an incident involving Melbourne's James Harmes last weekend. Pictures: Fox Footy/Getty Images

Richmond captain Trent Cotchin is the latest AFL player to potentially incur the ire of the Match Review Officer after an incident during the Tigers' pre-season clash against Melbourne. After a somewhat underwhelming campaign last year, Tigers fans will be hoping Cotchin's forearm to Melbourne tagger James Harmes will be viewed at the lower end of offences.

Cotchin and Harmes had been wrestling behind play for a few moments in the third quarter, before Richmond skipper appeared to hit Harmes with a forearm. He gave away a free kick for his trouble, but a potential absence to start the home and away season would be the last thing Tigers fans wanted to see.

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Described by Fox Footy's Jon Ralph as a 'poor look', much depends on how the potential offence would be graded by the MRO. Given the incident happened behind play and involved Cotchin appearing to land an elbow to Harmes' neck, the incident will most likely be classed as intentional.

What remains to be seen is if the MRO will grade as low or medium impact, the difference resulting in either one or two weeks on the sidelines if Richmond doesn't challenge the ruling. There is also the potential for the MRO to class the act as careless, which would likely attract a fine rather than an suspension.

Despite being a frequent face at MRO proceedings, Cotchin has not missed a game due to suspension since the 2010 season. He was memorably cleared of a clash with then GWS Giants star Dylan Shiel in the 2017 preliminary final, which left Shiel concussed but Cotchin free to play in the grand final that year.

Cotchin attracted a degree of criticism from fans, with many critical of his relatively clean record despite frequent involvement in controversial incidents. Richmond are set to take on Carlton on Thursday night on the AFL season opener.

MRO to weigh up Cotchin, De Goey incidents from AFL pre-season

The MRO is set to consider two other incidents from last week's pre-season matches when they sit for the first time in 2023 on Monday night. Collingwood will wait to see whether Jordan de Goey will be available for round one after a sling tackle on Hawthorn's Lloyd Meek.

The match review officer will likely consider whether or not de Goey had driven Meek into the ground head-first. The initial tackling action was fair, but de Goey rotated Meek in order to bring him to ground, causing him to fall forwards.

Jordan de Goey signed a contract extension to remain with Collingwood through the 2027 AFL season last year. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)
Jordan de Goey signed a contract extension to remain with Collingwood through the 2027 AFL season last year. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Commentator and former AFL player Garry Lyon pointed out it was the 'follow through' that could potentially land de Goey in hot water. But not everyone was convinced, with many arguing it was right on the edge of acceptable play, considering Meek's Head didn't hit the ground.

"The intent of the tackle was great, that's how you want people to tackle, but it's just the follow through," Lyon observed. "There was no malice in it, but it's the kind of tackle everyone should be careful of."

De Goey dominated with a game-high 31 disposals and three goal assists, linking well with ex-Hawk Tom Mitchell through the midfield. The Magpies will be desperate not to lose De Goey for their round one clash against reigning premiers Geelong next week.

Additionally, Giants ruckman Brayden Pruess will be looked at for a potential spear tackle on Gold Coast rival Tom Berry. attempting to burst through a pack of players, Berry left his feet to dish off a handball as he was tackled low by Pruess, rotating and flipping in the air before crashing to the turf.

Giants coach Adam Kingsley was optimistic Pruess would be available to play in round one, labelling the incident 'part of the game'.

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