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The Roar


Monster bump ban confirmed for Port forward - and won't include pre-season match - as Power cry 'scapegoat'

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28th February, 2024
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Port Adelaide forward Sam Powell-Pepper has been handed a four-match suspension by the AFL Tribunal for the high bump that concussed Adelaide defender Mark Keane during last week’s trial match.

The Power’s bid to reduce the sanction to three matches was unsuccessful, while the league have confirmed the ban will only apply to home-and-away matches, meaning their upcoming AFL Community Series pre-season clash with Fremantle cannot be used as part of his suspension.

He will miss the club’s matches against West Coast, Richmond, Melbourne and Essendon.

In a marathon three and a half-hour Tribunal hearing despite Powell-Pepper pleading guilty to all charges, the Port defence had attempted to reduce the 26-year old’s suspension to three games.

The club and Powell-Pepper himself claimed his sole intent was to tackle Keane and that his amount of time to avoid contact with the Crow as teammate Willie Rioli’s tackle slung him into his path was grounds for a lesser penalty, with a biomechanist giving evidence to support the case.

The Power also argued the AFL was attempting to ‘make a scapegoat’ of Powell-Pepper in calling for a four-match suspension, in an ongoing attempt to eradicate concussion from the game following a series of head-knock related retirements, including Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw only last week.

However, their argument that anything more than a three-match ban would be ‘manifestly excessive’ was not heeded by the Tribunal.


“It [a suspension] sends a message to the playing community about the standards expected of players… to take the utmost care in any action that might result in a collision with the head,” AFL counsel Lisa Hannon KC said while arguing for a four-match ban.

In explaining their verdict, the Tribunal stated Powell-Pepper ‘as contact was about to occur… altered the position of his right shoulder and with his right arm tucked in made heavy and high contact with Keane’.

“We do not accept that the conduct involved minimal culpability,” Tribunal chairperson Renee Enbom said after handing down the four-match verdict, according to Fox Footy.

“Powell-Pepper ran to Keane, who was in the process of being tackled. We accept he was seeking to assist with the tackle. We don’t accept Keane moved in such a way when being tackled by Rioli that Powell-Pepper could not have reasonably anticipated the movement. 

Mark Keane sustained a concussion after a high hit from Sam Powell-Pepper.

Mark Keane sustained a concussion after a high hit from Sam Powell-Pepper. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)


“Even if the shoulder movement was a reflex action, that fact does not mean that the conduct as a whole involved minimal capability. 

“We consider Powell-Pepper’s conduct to have been very careless. He ran at speed towards a tackle that was occurring. 

“If he didn’t anticipate that the tackled player would be moving in the tackle, he should’ve reasonably anticipated that.

“He had a duty to take reasonable care to avoid head high contact when seeking to assist in a tackle. He did not take any steps to avoid the contact that ultimately occurred. 

“Even if we accept the shoulder movement was a reflex action, the reflex action occurred because he ran at speed at a player who was already being tackled.

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“Powell-Pepper took no steps to avoid high contact with the player being tackled. In all of those circumstances we consider four weeks to be an appropriate sanction.”