A QUIRK of timing has saved Marcus Bontempelli's Brownlow hopes and his chances of potentially featuring in the AFL finals.
Bontempelli was only fined $2000 from the Match Review this week after his late bump on Nick Haynes during Sunday's victory over the Giants was classified as 'low' impact.
However, it has since been revealed that Haynes – who was struggling to breathe in the immediate aftermath of the blow – sustained a rare fracture to his cricoid (a ring-shaped cartilage around his windpipe) as a result.
Nick Haynes is set to miss multiple weeks with a fractured larynx after this clash with Marcus Bontempelli.— AFL.com.au (@AFLcomau) August 20, 2019
The Bont was offered a $2000 fine by the MRO yesterday. Details: https://t.co/0cRoMGwAAp pic.twitter.com/4TAqBKaVXG
It means the important defender – who is a Virgin Australia AFL All Australian candidate – could miss up to four weeks, putting his own chances of appearing in the club's upcoming finals campaign in doubt.
AFL.com.au understands Haynes had undergone scans in the early afternoon on Monday and was preparing to meet with specialists at the time the Giants were required to submit their medical report to the AFL.
Not yet knowing the full extent of the injury, it left Match Review Officer (MRO) Michael Christian with little evidence to determine the impact of the blow by the time he was required to hand down his findings.
It also meant the Giants were left with no opportunity to present more information to the AFL on Haynes' injury.
Giants officials have subsequently expressed their disappointment in the process to the AFL.
Nick Haynes and Marcus Bontempelli after the bump. Picture: AFL Photos
However, in a statement released on Tuesday, an AFL spokesperson said: "The Match Review Officer can only adjudicate based on the available evidence at the time."
Had the extent of Haynes' injury been known at the time of the MRO's decision, the bump almost certainly would have been assessed as either 'high' or 'severe' impact.
That would have left Bontempelli staring at either an automatic two-match suspension or a direct referral to the AFL Tribunal, which would have more than likely been advised to hand down a ban of three or more matches.
Without the relevant knowledge at the time of his decision, Christian was forced to use the fact that Haynes only spent a small amount of time on the bench – before playing out the game – as evidence to suggest 'low' impact.
However, the incident occurred with just one minute remaining in the first half, with Giants medics understood to have tended to Haynes throughout the 20-minute interval.
The Giants do not believe that was taken into consideration by the MRO.
Haynes crouches near the interchange bench after the collision. Picture: Channel Seven
Speaking on Tuesday, Giants footy boss Wayne Campbell also revealed that Haynes' inability to breathe properly continued after the final siren.
"It was a very rare one – our doctors haven't seen one before," Campbell said.
"He managed to see out the game … he couldn't breathe at the end of the game, but the doctors did the right thing by him after that. Disappointingly, he'll miss this week."
Haynes returned to the field after the main break, playing the entirety of the second half of the contest and finishing with 26 disposals and nine marks in defence.
Haynes takes a mark during the first half against the Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Photos
"There was certainly consideration to ('medium' impact)," Christian had told AFL.com.au on Monday.
"He did come out onto the ground after half-time and played out the second half, so that was certainly a contributing factor in terms of that determination."
Christian did use the medical report to determine that Haynes had been struck in the throat as a result of the bump. That led him to assessing the contact grading as 'high'.
Where the AFL can appeal decisions made at the AFL Tribunal based on the fact it is an independent body, it cannot appeal the decisions made by the MRO.
This is due to the MRO being an AFL-endorsed decision-maker, meaning there is no action that either the League or the Giants can take following Haynes' scan results.