Gaff still in line for All-Australian despite brutal hit
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says Andrew Gaff could still be selected for the All-Australian team despite his brutal hit on Andrew Brayshaw.
McLachlan said that Gaff was still eligible for the team given it was selected on performance only.
It comes as Gaff will face the tribunal on Tuesday night for the left arm hit on Brayshaw that left him with a broken jaw.
"(With All-Australian) it's best players only, the best and fairest applies to the Brownlow clearly so I think its incumbent on the selectors to look at his on field performances, suspension is not a criteria," McLachlan said.
The AFL boss also dismissed suggestions that a red-card system should be introduced following the ugly hit on Brayshaw.
"I think I'm happy with the judicial system and the accountabilities we have," he said.
"I do believe players are held accountable and I do believe generally it is a deterrent for acts like that.
"I don't know that a red card would change anything that happened yesterday in terms of the action.
"It was a terrible incident and we're thinking of Brayshaw because it was a terrible incident and he will be held accountable the right way for something we do not want to see on our field at any time or any field across the country."
Gaff is facing possible police action and a likely season-ending ban as the fallout from his sickening behind-the-play attack escalates.
Meanwhile West Australian police on Monday opened the door to potential criminal charges after Gaff's ugly assault on Brayshaw.
WA Commissioner Chris Dawson said police action was possible, despite the AFL having its own processes in place.
"We will make an assessment, as we would with other matters of public interest, and we would encourage any parties concerned with this matter to contact police,'' he said.
Dawson said physical contact on the football field was expected, and it was rare for criminal charges to be laid over an incident in a professional sporting contest, but "the central issue here is what should be governed by the sporting code and what falls within the criminal realm".
West Coast chairman Trevor Nisbett said Gaff and Brayshaw had played golf together just days before the incident.
Fremantle spokesman Leigh Morfesse on Monday night said it was unclear whether Brayshaw or the club would take the matter further with police.
"It's not something we have considered,'' he said.
Brayshaw will not be able to eat solid food for four weeks, and will not play again this season. He was on Monday recovering at home with his parents.
Greats of the game condemned the incident, which was referred directly to the AFL Tribunal by Match Review Officer Michael Christian. It was graded as intentional, with a severe impact to the head.
Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews, the only player in VFL-AFL history to face police action for an on-field assault, said Gaff was "not outside the law of the land'' and deserved a "significant suspension".
"The guilt and the shame will live with Andrew Gaff for the rest of his life," he said.
Monash University senior law lecturer Eric Windholz said the attack, which displaced three teeth and required surgery, was worthy of a criminal review.
"If that happened in any other workplace, would we even be debating whether police should be involved or not?'' he asked.
"The old days of what happens on the field, stays on the field'' were over, he said.
"Our attitudes are changing. From a criminal law point of view, the definition is whether it caused injury to another person intentionally or recklessly without lawful excuse.
"Having looked at the footage, I don't think you can argue it's not reckless.
"One of the traditional arguments is players consent to the physical contact, but I would argue that you don't consent to being punched 20 or 30m behind play.
Brayshaw's uncle, James Brayshaw, the former North Melbourne chairman, called the Fremantle rookie's father, Mark, a "superstar" for showing concern for Gaff's family.
"He just said: 'That poor kid, that's so out of character for him. His poor parents are going to be somewhere, and they'll be devastated'.
"I'm not sure if it was my young bloke that I'd be handling it as well as that."
The incident sparked debate about whether the AFL should introduce a soccer-style red-card system, or the sin bin send-off model used in rugby.
More than half of 14,800 respondents to a Footy Fans Survey supported a red-card send-off system for violent acts.
Matthews said a send-off rule was warranted. He also floated the idea of replays being used to help AFL umpires decide when to banish a player to the sidelines. "We need to upgrade the video reviewing official," he said.
GWS player Jeremy Cameron was suspended for five games this season for flooring Brisbane's Harris Andrews, who was admitted to hospital with bleeding on his brain.
Last year, Melbourne's Tomas Bugg received a six-match suspension for striking Sydney's Callum Mills. It was one of the biggest penalties handed down in some time.
Richmond's Bachar Houli was suspended for four weeks last season for knocking out Carlton's Jed Lamb.
And former AFL diversity manager Ali Fahour was forced to stand down after copping a career-ending 14-week ban for a coward punch during a Northern Football League match last year.