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The Roar


'Inherently dangerous action': Tribunal verdict IN as Wright, King learn fate for controversial incidents

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26th March, 2024
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A bung shoulder, a dodgy floater and some computer-generated fireworks haven’t been enough to save Essendon forward Peter Wright from being slapped with a four-match ban at the AFL Tribunal.

Wright threw himself at the mercy of the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night by pleading guilty to the airborne bump that concussed Sydney defender Harry Cunningham.

The rough conduct charge was classified as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact – all elements Wright accepted. 

St Kilda forward Max King likewise had little luck in overturning his one-match ban for a high bump on Collingwood’s Finlay Macrae.

King was cited after collecting the Magpies midfielder in the head after he had disposed of the ball in Thursday night’s match at the MCG.

The bump was deemed careless conduct, high contact and medium impact, drawing a one-match ban. 

The Saints unsuccessfully argued King was entitled to bump given the close proximity of the ball, and claimed the high contact was primarily caused by team-mate Bradley Hill’s tackle taking Macrae lower than King could have reasonably foreseen.


Essendon’s lawyer Ben Ihle argued Wright should receive the minimum three-match ban, given the 27-year-old took actions to avoid an even more serious injury to Cunningham and was also quick to apologise to his Sydney opponent after the match.

AFL counsel Nick Pane said the ban should be at least four matches.

“This is one of those examples where it was possible for Wright to avoid forceful high contact and prevent injury,” Pane said.

“Wright clearly leaves the ground, turns his body and tucks his shoulder to bump Cunningham.

“That is an inherently dangerous action that had the potential to cause a serious injury.”


Ihle labelled the kick to Wright a “dodgy floater”, which meant the drop of the ball fell shorter than what could have initially been expected.

He said Wright only had eyes for the ball as he led strongly to take a chest mark, but made a split-second decision to turn his body once he realised contact would be made.

Ihle cited an ongoing right shoulder issue as proof that Wright didn’t turn his body with the intention to clean up Cunningham with his right shoulder.

Sydney players wrestle with Peter Wright.

Sydney players wrestle with Peter Wright. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

“If Wright was seeking to increase the force of the bump, he would not lead with his injured shoulder,” Ihle said.

“The contact that is made is not from his shoulder, but rather because of the turn, they have front-on, body-to-body contact. He was actually seeking to lessen – albeit not completely avoid – the contact.”


As Ihle was wrapping up his argument, his screen lit up with fireworks. “Some fireworks just went off behind you,” AFL chairman Jeff Gleeson said. 

“I think it was an effect on your screen. Well done, it was at the height of your submission.”

Ihle’s arguments – and fireworks display – didn’t deter the three-person panel of David Neitz, Shane Wakelin and Gleeson from handing down a four-match penalty.

“The contact was directly to the head. The extent of force fell into the severe category by a fair margin,” Gleeson said.

“Wright leapt into the contest yet did not attempt to mark or spoil.


“It appears there was an element of bracing for contact, but he had other alternatives.”

Wright will miss matches against St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs and Adelaide, while King will also miss the Bombers-Saints game.