AFL LEGEND Leigh Matthews has renewed his call for a send-off rule re-think after Andrew Gaff's off-the-ball hit on Andrew Brayshaw, but stopped short of suggesting the West Coast midfielder should face criminal charges.
The Hawthorn great, the only player in VFL-AFL history to face police action over an on-field hit when he broke the jaw of Geelong's Neville Bruns in 1985, believes Gaff's strike on Fremantle's Brayshaw deserved "a significant suspension" of six to seven weeks.
However, Matthews believed there was no need to involve police despite acknowledging his 1985 incident and Gaff's were similar.
"(In) footy back then ... you're almost putting yourself into a war without weapons," Matthews told Macquarie Sports Radio on Monday.
"But 30 years later I think to myself ... the option should be available because you're not outside the law of the land."
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On top of the VFL de-registering him for four matches, Matthews was fined $1000 and convicted of assault before it was later overturned on appeal.
"There was vision of it ... so I pleaded guilty because I thought, 'How can you plead not guilty to something that's clearly there in sort of technicolour'," he said.
The four-time premiership coach with Collingwood and Brisbane believed a red card would have been a more appropriate punishment for Gaff.
"This is the (second) incident this year ... where the send-off rule should have applied," Matthews said, noting GWS forward Jeremy Cameron's stray elbow on Brisbane's Harris Andrews in round 14.
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"I hope the AFL, behind the scenes, are asking themselves the question.
"Brayshaw's lost to Fremantle, therefore Gaff should be lost to the Eagles."
Matthews also floated the idea of replays being used in the future to help umpires decide if an incident was a clear-cut send-off.
"We need to upgrade the video-reviewing official," he said.
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"The field umpire wouldn't have even seen this incident, so they don't even know about it."
Brayshaw has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and will not be able to eat solids for the next four weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken jaw and three displaced teeth on Sunday night.
But Matthews said Gaff would likely sustain greater long-term damage than the victim.
"The guilt and the shame will live with Andrew Gaff for the rest of his life," he said.
WA Police told AFL.com.au no complaints had been made about the incident, but if any were made, they would be assessed.
Police commissioner Chris Dawson, said, "No one likes to see hits like that in competitive sport.
"It is rare for police to lay criminal charges as a result of an incident in a professional competitive sporting event.
"Physical contact on the footy field is expected. The central issue here is what should be governed by the sporting code and what falls within the criminal realm."
Dawson noted the AFL had its own tribunal processes and there were also club sanctions that could apply.
"We will make an assessment on this incident as we would with other matters of public interest, and we would encourage any parties directly connected and concerned with this matter to contact WA Police Force."
Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones said teammate Angus Brayshaw, Andrew's older brother, was left "rattled" by the hit.
"I think (Angus is) a little bit rattled. He's going to pop over today and do some recovery and I'll have a chat to him," Jones said on SEN on Monday.
"I think obviously he felt like his hands were tied. I think all of his family was over there in Perth and it's a little bit of a weird situation with (brother) Hamish (Brayshaw) playing at West Coast as well and I think being close friends with Gaff as well.
"It's not something you want to see and obviously Angus is just feeling for his younger brother and hoping he's going to be OK, but it's definitely not something we want to see too often."
Sydney coach John Longmire said a send-off rule "should be discussed at the AFL Competition Committee.
"The recommendation will be put forward at that level. It's not for me to say what I think should or shouldn't happen. It's happened to us last year (when Melbourne's Tomas Bugg hit Sydney defender Callum Mills in round 15), it happened again this week.
"It’s very rare. But if those things are going to be discussed as far as send-offs or anything else, they should be discussed at the rules committee. I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other, other than the fact it should be discussed.
"Not everything in this game is black or white.
"It's easy when you think you can get it right in black-and-white cases, but when those cases aren't black and white, what's it going to look like then? That’s what we need to be discussing."