West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett has criticised Fremantle coach Ross Lyon and scoffed at talk Andrew Gaff’s on-field king hit should be dealt with by the criminal courts.
Lyon said on Sunday night 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,” he 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.”
Brayshaw has already undergone surgery to repair his badly broken jaw and damaged teeth, and he will not eat solid food for a month.
Quizzed if Lyon’s comments were appropriate, Nisbett shared his disappointment.
“No, they weren’t. I don’t think they were, but unfortunately, they were made,” he said.
“I’d like to think that when you make those comments, you try to take out the emotion of the situation.
“It’s very difficult to do that, but you also need to be extremely accurate if you’re going to make comments like that.”
Nisbett revealed Gaff had recently played golf with Brayshaw and brother Hamish, a first-year player on the Eagles’ list.
“They have a genuine friendship. The kids come through the system all the time and it wouldn’t surprise you — with Hamish at our club — that there is a reasonable relationship there,” he said.
He had already apologised to the brothers’ father Mark Brayshaw, who is president of the AFL Coaches Association and goes back with Eagles coach Adam Simpson.
“He understands the club that we’ve got here, Hamish is playing here and consequently he was very understanding of the incident that had gone wrong,” Nisbett said.
“It was a really good and fruitful conversation so I was really pleased that I got hold of him.”
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson confirmed the punch thrown by Gaff will be assessed, and he encouraged any parties directly connected with the matter to contact police.
Gaff is set to be handed a long suspension by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night, however some say that’s not enough.
Prominent lawyer Tom Percy flagged the prospect of criminal charges being laid, and said Gaff deserves a lifetime AFL ban.
He said he had seen people go to jail for less.
Nisbett was just as unimpressed by that statement as he was with Lyon’s comments, and is hopeful the matter will be dealt with solely by the AFL tribunal.
“Some of those inflammatory comments by some people are unwarranted,” NIsbett said.
“Everyone knows we’ve got a process in the AFL, and the club will take the process to the tribunal.
“The AFL will deal with it, the player will get the penalty that the AFL tribunal deems as deserved in this case.
“I’d be very hopeful we let the process go through the AFL, like all other processes do.”
Nisbett also defended the Optus Stadium crowd over behaviour that was criticised as ‘classless’, confirming the initial incident was not shown on the big screen because it was not captured by the arena’s cameras.
THE AFL TRIBUNAL’S HEAVIEST RECENT SUSPENSIONS
* JEREMY CAMERON – five games in 2018
Brisbane key defender Harris Andrews was hospitalised with bleeding on his brain after being floored by a swinging forearm from GWS forward Cameron. It was Cameron’s second direct referral to the tribunal – he also copped a four-game ban in 2016 for a bump that left Brisbane’s Rhys Mathieson with a fractured cheekbone.
* TOM BUGG – six games, 2017
A hefty ban was inevitable when Melbourne tagger Bugg dropped Sydney’s Callum Mills to the turf with an intentional left hook. Mills’ teammates labelled the incident a “dog act” and Bugg has since managed just three games for the Demons.
* BACHAR HOULI – four games, 2017
History was made when the AFL appealed against the two-game ban handed by the tribunal to Richmond defender Houli for striking Carlton’s Jed Lamb. The Tigers submitted character references from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and media personality Waleed Aly but the AFL Appeals Board took just 10 minutes to double the ban.
* TOM JONAS – six games, 2016
Ironically, it was West Coast’s Andrew Gaff on the receiving end of this brutal high bump from Port Adelaide backman Jonas. The hit received the most serious classification – intentional conduct, severe impact and high contact – and Jonas’ attempt to have the charge downgraded cost him any chance of a discount.
* STEVEN BAKER – nine games (total), 2010
St Kilda’s serial offender pleaded guilty to three charges of striking Geelong’s Steve Johnson, and lost an appeal against a fourth charge of misconduct for hitting Johnson’s broken hand in the same game. Baker also copped a seven-game ban for knocking out Fremantle forward Jeff Farmer behind the play in 2007.
* DEAN SOLOMON – eight games, 2008
The Fremantle utility caught Cameron Ling flush with a menacing elbow after the Geelong tagger had dished off a handball. Ling suffered a compressed fracture of the cheekbone and Solomon copped the most severe tribunal penalty in more than a decade.
* BARRY HALL – seven games, 2008
Sydney premiership player Hall will forever be remembered for the sickening left hook that felled West Coast defender Brent Staker. Staker was knocked out before he hit the ground and Hall later admitted he feared the violent blow could have killed his opponent.