The GWS Giants have been forced to go all the way to the AFL appeals board – just two days before their elimination final – to fight for Toby Bedford.
And Essendon legend Tim Watson believes there’s enough evidence to argue league bosses have tried to make an example out of the 23-year-old ahead of the finals that they couldn’t have done with a bigger name.
Bedford bumped Carlton’s Zac Fisher off the ball in the final round and received a one-match ban for rough conduct.
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GWS took it to the tribunal on Monday afternoon but failed to find any success, forcing the club into a decision on whether to further disrupt their preparations for Saturday’s clash with St Kilda.
The Giants’ appeal will take place on Thursday afternoon – and Watson is hoping for a result in the club’s favour.
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GWS have taken up the fight for Toby Bedford. Credit: STEVEN MARKHAM/AAP
Asked if Bedford would have been spared in the first place had he owned the profile of a Christian Petracca or Patrick Cripps, the Channel 7 footy commentator was clear.
“I think so. You’ve got the evidence here,” Watson said on Talking Finals.
“You’ve got Zac Fisher, who said he didn’t get hit in the head. Then you’ve got the tribunal saying that there was no concussion, there was no injury.
“We’ve now got the coach Adam Kingsley saying that doesn’t warrant a suspension.
“Yes, it would’ve been a lot different had it have been Petracca.
“And I, for one, hope that he gets off at the appeal, because you shouldn’t miss a finals game for what occurred there in that incident.”
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Richmond premiership legend Trent Cotchin, speaking freer than ever after officially hanging up the boots, said he “tends to agree” for one specific reason.
“It’s always hard,” he said.
“Depending on who you’re hitting and the way that they carry (on) after the contact can sometimes impact the way that the vision is viewed.
“I think in this case it should be part of the game and hopefully he’ll get off.”
Trent Cotchin believes Zach Fisher’s reaction contributed to the ban. Credit: AFL
Geelong great Joel Selwood, one of the toughest tacklers in the game’s history, initially had just two words and a smile: “Free him!”
“It was a football act that we grew up with… and I just don’t think it was hard enough,” he joked.
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