Collingwood Magpies gun Brayden Maynard has been cleared to play by the AFL Tribunal after a four-hour hearing.
Maynard was facing a three-match ban for his hit on Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw but will now be free to play in the rest of the finals series.
The defender pleaded not guilty to rough conduct and not guilty to careless conduct with the Tribunal ruling in his favour.
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Early in the first quarter of the Magpies’ qualifying final win against Melbourne last weekend, Maynard jumped in an effort to spoil Angus Brayshaw’s kick.
But as he came down, he collected the Demons midfielder in the head and knocked him out.
After the match, Maynard said the incident was a “footy act”, but the AFL Match Review Officer and football executive general manager Laura Kane graded it careless conduct, severe impact and high contact, which carries a minimum three-match ban.
In going through the incident, Maynard said he was “looking at the football the whole time”, and the contact left him feeling “a bit rattled”.
“I had to jump in the air to try and touch the ball. I jumped off two feet, straight in the air,” Maynard said.
“When I jumped, I was looking at the football the whole time. When I was in the air and smothering the ball, I looked at the football, felt like I made connection, then turned my head to land and “shit, he was there”.
“It was a surprise he had come into my way. It was almost like a flinch reaction. I seized up.
“Next thing I know he was on the floor and I was a bit rattled myself.”
Maynard rejected AFL counsel Andrew Woods’ argument he could have “outstretched” or “opened” his arms in a bid to cushion some of the impact.
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”I feel the same outcome would have happened because it was a collision. It happened very quickly,” he said.
“I didn’t see him coming down my line. I saw him to the right of me.”
Maynard’s rejection was supported by biomechanist Michael Cole, who said he would have had “no opportunity” to avoid the collision.
Among the evidence submitted as part of the three-hour hearing was slow-motion vision from behind the goals with overlays of coloured “lanes”, which showed Brayshaw in the middle of Maynard’s “lane” when they collided.