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Nisbett dismisses call for Gaff police charges

AFL not 'blameless' in Gaff punch Young Blue who's not learning, Buddy's strut, and Dons didn't pay 'due respect'

WEST Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett has dismissed "inflammatory" calls for Andrew Gaff to face criminal charges after his off-the-ball strike left Fremantle youngster Andy Brayshaw with a broken jaw and displaced teeth.   

Prominent Perth lawyer and East Perth board member Tom Percy raised the prospect after the ugly incident marred Sunday's fiery Western Derby.

WA Police have not received a complaint and Commissioner Chris Dawson said it was rare for charges to be laid from an incident in professional sport.

DEMOLITION DERBY 2.0 Full match coverage and stats

Nisbett, who spoke out about on-field violence at amateur level three years ago, believed the AFL Tribunal – where Gaff's case is all but certain to be sent – should deal with the issue.

"Some of those inflammatory comments by some people just are unwarranted, because everyone knows we've got a process in the AFL and the club will take the process to the Tribunal," Nisbett said.

"The AFL will deal with it. The player will get the penalty that the AFL Tribunal deems as deserved in this case." 

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Nisbett and coach Adam Simpson have spoken to Brayshaw's father Mark, the AFL Coaches' Association boss, and the family accepted the club's apology.

"Fortunately, (Andy) he's in a reasonable position considering what happened," Nisbett said.

"As a club, obviously we're very disappointed at the incident. We take full ownership of the incident, as does Andrew.

"Gaffy's not in great shape himself, but we understand the incident happened and we are fully apologetic to Andrew Brayshaw and the family and the Fremantle Football Club for the incident."

Nisbett defended Eagles fans for cheering Gaff after the incident, believing many at Optus Stadium were not aware of the severity of the strike, which was not replayed on big screens.

"I didn't see the incident myself, so there would have been a lot of fans, I would say, that weren't aware of the incident, per se," he said. 

"I would guess that they saw the other incidents where Andrew (Gaff) was knocked over, and so forth, so I guess they were just following the footy.

"I think that's probably the only explanation."

Speaking post-match, Simpson questioned whether Gaff's high punch was intentional and Nisbett couldn't say for certain what the star onballer was thinking. 

"It may not have been intentional, but we'll have to get that from Andrew when he talks to the Tribunal," he said.  

"It's totally out of character when a player who has never been reported at any level – through juniors through all his senior 174 games – and it just came out of the blue." 

Emotions were running high post-match, and Nisbett was disappointed by Ross Lyon's comments, when the Dockers coach claimed that Brayshaw was "king-hit" 100m off the ball.

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Lyon compared it to Barry Hall's infamous Brent Staker punch and Nisbett thought the Fremantle coach's remarks further strained already-tense relations between the clubs.  

"I didn't think they were (appropriate)," Nisbett said. "I'd like to think when you make those comments you try to take out the emotion of the situation.

"It's very difficult to do that but you also need to be extremely accurate if you're going to make comments like that."

Nisbett, who didn't have a strong opinion whether red card should be introduced into the competition, hoped Gaff – a restricted free agent in hot demand from Victorian clubs – hadn't played his final game for West Coast. 

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Regardless of Gaff's future, the Eagles face a delicate situation given Brayshaw's older brother Hamish is on their list and Gaff played golf with them last week.

"It’s an extraordinary situation that we all find ourselves in at the moment," Nisbett said.

"I think it's a genuine friendship. The kids come through the system all the time and it wouldn't surprise you — with Hamish at our club — that there is a reasonable relationship there."

 

West Coast star Elliot Yeo spoke to Gaff after the game and said the star onballer "was pretty remorseful" for his uncharacteristic action and needed the Eagles' support.

Yeo didn't see Gaff's strike but felt tensions rise in the aftermath and players were spoken to by umpires and told to "rein it in a little bit".

"I've never really had that conversation in my time as a football player," he said.

"If the umpire starts to say something, then it's probably gone too far."

Despite the Eagles tightening their grip on second spot after beating Fremantle, their premiership bid has taken a hit with Gaff facing a lengthy suspension and potentially joining Nic Naitanui on the sidelines for the rest of the season.

"It's going to be hard, obviously, not having Gaffy and we're not too sure on what's going to happen and what the Tribunal say," Yeo said.

"He is going to be sorely missed but we have confidence the kids we have coming through will be able to fulfill the role that Gaffy's been playing."

Gaff was absent from Eagles training on Monday, while star spearhead Josh Kennedy (leg) also wasn't sighted and is highly unlikely to be available for a tough trip to face Port Adelaide.

Versatile defender Will Schofield briefly joined in stationary handball work while wearing a compression bandage on his left hamstring.

Hamish Brayshaw appeared in good spirits while training with the Eagles who played for East Perth on Saturday.