‘It’s AFL, not fight club’: Franklin loses appeal, will miss game against Demons

Lance Franklin has failed to have his one-match ban for striking Trent Cotchin overturned on appeal and will miss Saturday night’s clash with Melbourne.

The Swans superstar argued he pushed Cotchin, which should not constitute a strike, alternatively arguing the act was careless and not intentional, and the impact was negligible – lower than “low”.

Lance Franklin will miss Saturday’s match against Melbourne after his appeal against striking Trent Cotchin was thrown out.Credit:Channel Seven

But the AFL’s barrister Andrew Woods said Franklin’s intent was clear as the contest was off the ball, while the “jolting back of Cotchin’s head” supported the grading of low impact.

Woods described the strike as “brazen” and “cowardly”.

“It’s AFL, not fight club or some combat sport,” Woods said, adding that the incident set a poor example for children watching at home.

Duncan Miller SC, legal counsel for Franklin, said Cotchin exaggerated contact to play for the free kick.

“I’m tempted to say he might be invited to the Logies and not the Brownlow this year,” Miller said.

Miller used a piece of footage of Carlton’s Sam Docherty jumper-punching Adelaide’s Riley Thilthorpe from last year, which was graded as negligible impact, and argued Franklin’s push to Cotchin was no more forceful.

Miller also said the strike was identical to the first push to Cotchin’s chest a second earlier, and if not for Cotchin raising his left arm, Franklin’s second push would not have made higher contact to the former Richmond skipper, and therefore the conduct should have been downgraded from intentional to careless.

A medical report from the Tigers stated that Cotchin had not been injured in the incident.

Lance Franklin will miss Saturday’s match against Melbourne.Credit:AFL Photos/Getty Images

But after more than 25 minutes of deliberation, Jeff Gleeson QC, chair of the tribunal, dismissed Franklin’s appeal, and upheld the charge of intentional striking, high contact and low impact.

“When you view it at normal speed, it’s clear this is an act of striking and not pushing,” Gleeson said.

“It was swift and erect. It was notably more aggressive and forceful than the first act.

“While the contact was made with an open hand, it was of sufficient force to comfortably constitute a strike.

“The vision reveals sufficiently that Franklin’s intent was to strike Mr Cotchin. He was looking directly at him and was obviously upset at having been forcibly blocked when watching the ball.”

Franklin earlier had said he was looking at his teammate Tom Papley when he was blocked by Cotchin.

“I’m looking at [Papley], trying to make eye contact with him,” Franklin said while watching the replay of Cotchin’s block.

“Obviously, I had my eyes on the ball and at no stage did I expect contact from Cotchin at that point.

“I was looking at the ball and that’s when Trent has got me off guard. I didn’t expect any contact.”

Franklin said he twice attempted to push him off, the first, which did not draw a report, getting him the chest, and the second drawing a report.

Franklin could not say whether he made contact to Cotchin’s head.

“No recollection of where I got him, but at no point did I think I hit him in the face,” Franklin said of the contact.

When quizzed again by Woods, Franklin said he did not know where contact was made.

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