Max King and Peter Wright. Pictures: AFL Photos

A BUNG shoulder, a dodgy floater and some computer-generated fireworks haven't been enough to save Essendon forward Peter Wright from being slapped with a four-match ban at the AFL Tribunal.

And Max King also endured a disappointing night with the St Kilda spearhead to miss Saturday's clash with Essendon after his one-match ban for a high bump on Collingwood's Finlay Macrae was upheld

Wright threw himself at the mercy of the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night by pleading guilty to the airborne bump that concussed Harry Cunningham and resulted in the Sydney defender being stretchered off the ground.


The rough conduct charge was classified as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact - all elements Wright accepted. 

Essendon's lawyer Ben Ihle argued Wright should receive the minimum three-match ban, given the 27-year-old took actions to avoid an even more serious injury to Cunningham and was also quick to apologise to his Sydney opponent after the match.

AFL counsel Nick Pane said the ban should be at least four matches.

"Wright clearly leaves the ground, turns his body and tucks his shoulder to bump Cunningham," Pane said.

"That is an inherently dangerous action that had the potential to cause a serious injury."

Peter Wright collides with Harry Cunningham during Essendon's clash against Sydney in round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Ihle labelled the kick to Wright a "dodgy floater", which meant the drop of the ball fell shorter than what could have initially been expected.

He said Wright only had eyes for the ball as he led strongly to take a chest mark, but made a split-second decision to turn his body once he realised contact would be made.

Ihle cited an ongoing right shoulder issue as proof that Wright didn't turn his body with the intention to clean up Cunningham with his right shoulder.

"If Wright was seeking to increase the force of the bump, he would not lead with his injured shoulder," Ihle said.

"The contact that is made is not from his shoulder, but rather because of the turn, they have front-on, body-to-body contact.

"He was actually seeking to lessen - albeit not completely avoid - the contact."

Nick Blakey, Luke Parker, Harry Cunningham and Jake Lloyd at Bondi Icebergs on March 26, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

As Ihle was wrapping up his argument, his screen lit up with fireworks.

"Some fireworks just went off behind you," AFL chairman Jeff Gleeson said. 

"I think it was an effect on your screen. Well done, it was at the height of your submission."

Ihle's arguments - and fireworks display - didn't deter the three-person panel of David Neitz, Shane Wakelin and Gleeson from handing down a four-match penalty.

Wright accepted the Tribunal's findings, meaning he will miss matches against St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs and Adelaide. 

"The message is that kind of contest is not really acceptable and we need to put the players' care first and foremost," Wright told reporters after the hearing.

"I'm disappointed to be missing the next four games, and the findings reflect the changing nature of community standards when it comes to the adjudication of the game. 

"It’s clear that all players need to adjust to this."


In Tuesday night's other case, St Kilda failed to successfully argue that King's glancing bump on Macrae should be classified as accidental contact instead of careless, or low impact instead of medium.

King said Bradley Hill's lingering tackle on Macrae meant the Collingwood player was lower than what could have been reasonably expected.

"As he disposed of the ball, I was under the assumption he would be released from the tackle and I would make shoulder on shoulder contact," King said during his evidence.

"Bradley Hill held onto him after he disposed of the ball, which at the last minute dragged him down below the level I expected to make contact at.

"It's not reasonable to foresee that your teammate is going to give away a free kick."

King also said he attempted to turn his body to minimise the contact, but the AFL Tribunal upheld his one-match ban.

"This is a disappointing situation, but I understand the reasoning behind the decision and will respectfully sit out this week," King said after the hearing.