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I don’t care what week of the year it is. I don’t care that it will cost him a grand final. Trent Cotchin must be banned for his collision with Dylan Shiel.
Cotchin’s decision to brace for impact with his shoulder makes it clear that his intention was to bump Dylan Shiel away from the contest rather than go directly for the ball.
That kind of action isn’t illegal in the AFL necessarily, but you do have a duty of care when you do so to not strike your opponent in the head.
Cotchin failed that duty of care. And while some would say that it is a minor incident and one that’s bound to happen in a contact sport, the AFL’s laws don’t see it this way.
The head has been sacred for a while now. We know what concussions can do to the human brain and it isn’t pretty, and it isn’t acceptable for them to be brushed off as no big deal.
Make no mistake, if this incident had occurred inside a home-and-away match it would certainly be cause for a one-week suspension, or at the very least a fine.
And a fine would do just fine for suspending Cotchin in this case, as he has already been given two this year and a third strike triggers an automatic one-week ban.
Is that fair? It’s a pretty rough call, but if Cotchin doesn’t want to miss games then he has to not put himself in this position to begin with, simple as that.
The AFL has to juggle many priorities as it attempts to manage the game and looks to achieve the best outcomes across the board.
But No.1 on that list of priorities has to be the same as it ought to be in any other business – the health and safety of its employees.
To let Cotchin play next week would be a violation of that principle, saying that other aspects of the game are more important than whether or not Dylan Shiel is able to think straight in twenty years time.
Do the right thing, AFL.