MRP and AFL caught in a Cotch 22

Martin Rocks Roar Guru

By , Martin Rocks is a Roar Guru

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    Trent Cotchin was going hard for the footy, but the general pattern of adjudication from the 2017 Match Review Panel suggests this is a minor traffic infringement.

    Unfortunately Cotchin has run out of demerit points with his previous two penalties from earlier this season, and the first couple of days in GF week is going to be a fascinating tight-rope.

    If the AFL is serious about ‘protecting the head’ and ‘duty of care’ – unfortunately in my opinion the panel should come to the conclusion that this is a fine and Cotchin will miss.

    Again, I think Cotchin’s intentions were true, my opinion is formed purely on how these types of collisions have been assessed by the MRP this year.

    Cotchin makes a bracing action with his leading shoulder – to me that is the biggest worry in this.

    This incident led me back to the Round 13 match between the Swans and the Tigers, where Buddy Franklin led in with a shoulder on Connor Menendue.

    The MRP verdict is below:

    “Lance Franklin, Sydney Swans, has been charged with engaging in rough conduct against Connor Menadue, Richmond, during the second quarter of the Round 13 match between the Sydney Swans and Richmond, played at the MCG on Saturday June 17, 2017. In summary, he can accept a $1000 sanction with an early plea.

    “Based on the available video evidence and a medical report from the Richmond Football Club, the incident was assessed as careless conduct with low impact to the head. The incident was classified as a $1500 sanction. The player has no applicable record which impacts the penalty. An early plea enables the player to accept a $1000 sanction.” 

    Given this, and noting the fact that Shiel was concussed, the MRP have got a fascinating debate on their hands.

    On the flipside, if the MRP clears Cotchin, it just means they shouldn’t sit following the preliminary final matches. It is pointless.

    Trent Cotchin Richmond Tigers AFL 2017

    Trent Cotchin (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    We have had too many glossed over for it to have any relevance come grand final week.

    As a Swans fan, I recall Andrew Dunkley and Barry Hall got away with some interesting interpretations to play in the last Saturdays in September in 1996 and 2005 respectively.

    The old cliche of ‘a bloke can’t miss a grannie for that’ will resonate strongly, as it already has.

    With this weight of precedent how can the MRP possibly win?

    Hand down the fine, and many pundits will say it is the end of contested footy.

    Let Cotchin play, and the whole mantra of protecting the player’s head under the 2017 interpretation will be thrown out the door.

    Unfortunately the incident takes away from what we should be talking about – Cotchin should never have been walking the tightrope in the first place.

    Cotchin’s two prior charges for 2017 are both punches – one a jumper punch to Fremantle midfielder Lachie Neale’s chin and the other a gut punch to St Kilda’s Jack Lonie.

    The sad thing is, I can guarantee if Cotchin did not have these two strikes, he would be fined tomorrow night so they could celebrate Dusty’s Brownlow.

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