‘An absolute joke’: Smith slams AFL over Maynard tribunal verdict

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Former high-flying Demon Shaun Smith, who suffered repeated concussions throughout his playing career, has slammed the AFL after Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard was cleared for the clash with Angus Brayshaw.

As former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire celebrated the verdict, declaring “justice has been done”, Smith, who is the father of Brayshaw’s teammate Joel, described the AFL as an “embarrassment and an absolute joke” in a post on Facebook.

Smith, who is best remembered for his famous high mark against Brisbane in 1995, is convinced he is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of repeated concussions during his 109-game career for Melbourne and North Melbourne. In 2020, he received a $1.4 million concussion-related insurance payout, while he will also donate his brain to the Australian Sports Brain Bank for testing. CTE can only be diagnosed by an examination after death.

Brayshaw faces an uncertain future after being knocked out cold and concussed in the collision with Maynard in last Thursday night’s qualifying final.

The AFL has been contacted for comment on whether it will appeal the tribunal decision.

Smith took to social media on Tuesday night after a marathon four-hour hearing cleared Maynard of rough conduct, paving the way for the Magpie to play in next week’s preliminary final.

Former Melbourne and North Melbourne high-flyer Shaun Smith.Credit: The Age

“AFL you are an embarrassment and an absolute joke!!!” Smith posted on Facebook.

Replying to responses, Smith labelled the verdict as “absolutely disgusting” and called the AFL a “disgusting organisation”.

In dismissing the rough conduct charge laid by AFL operations boss Laura Kane and match review officer Michael Christian, the tribunal found Maynard could not have reasonably foreseen “violent impact” with Brayshaw, and he had not intended to bump.

“We accept that a reasonable player would have foreseen at the moment of committing to the act of smothering that some impact with Brayshaw was possible. But we find that it was not inevitable from the perspective of a player in Maynard’s position,” tribunal chair Jeff Gleeson said in a lengthy judgment.

“We are not at all satisfied that a reasonable player would have foreseen that violent impact or impact of the type suffered by Brayshaw was inevitable or even likely.

“We are clearly satisfied that Maynard did not engage in the act of bumping Brayshaw. It is not suggested by the AFL and nor could it be sensibly suggested that Maynard made a decision to bump his opponent at the moment of jumping in the air to smother. At that point in time, Maynard was clearly making a decision to smother.”

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