Demon Lachie Hunter fails to overturn one-match ban
May 23, 2023 / 9:52 pm
Melbourne midfielder Lachie Hunter will miss Saturday’s clash with Fremantle at the MCG after failing to have his one-match ban overturned at the AFL Tribunal.
Hunter was reported on the spot for a high bump on Connor Rozee after his right hip collected the sliding Port Adelaide midfielder in the head.
Rozee wasn’t seriously hurt by the incident, but the match review officer deemed Hunter’s forceful front-on contact as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.
Lawyer Adrian Anderson, acting for Melbourne, argued Hunter was contesting the ball and only turned his body to brace for contact at the last moment.
Anderson’s alternative submission was that contact was caused by circumstances out of Hunter’s control given that Rozee lunged forward instead of gathering the ball “in the ordinary fashion”.
Hunter was twice called upon to give evidence during the 90-minute hearing.
“I believe I tried to show duty of care both to my own body and Connor’s,” Hunter said.
“I stopped dead in my tracks once I realised there was going to be contact, so that’s the duty of care to Connor.
“Once he makes that lunge forward, you can see me open up my left arm and leg to stop that tap going on.
“You’d liken it to a goalkeeper in soccer where you try to cover all bases.”
Hunter said putting his head down to contest the ball wasn’t a “feasible option”.
“If I put my head down, I’m every chance to headbutt him in the head,” Hunter said.
When the AFL’s legal counsel Andrew Woods put it to him that he could have simply stepped to the left or the right to avoid contact, Hunter swiftly dismissed it.
“No, because you’re asking me to concede the ball to Port Adelaide,” Hunter said.
“I can’t see any situation where I would just let him tap the ball and let them carry the ball down the field.”
Hunter also dismissed the notion from Tribunal chairman Jeff Gleeson he could have avoided an injury to his opponent by employing a cradling-type approach as their two bodies collided.
“I don’t think that’s a feasible option. That’s opening myself up to injuries,” Hunter said.
The jury deliberated for 30 minutes before deciding to uphold the charge and the one-match ban that goes with it.
“We find that Hunter was not contesting the ball,” Gleeson said.
“His eyes were on Rozee and not on the ball as he shaped his body sideways.
“Even if we had concluded he was contesting the ball, we found it was not reasonable for him to contest the ball in that way.”
Lachie Hunter (r) has lost his case at the tribunal and will serve a one-match ban for a high bump. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)
(C) AAP 2023