IN ALL his years playing football, St Kilda's Maverick Weller can't remember being hit as hard as he was by Collingwood's Steele Sidebottom two weeks ago.
However he holds no remorse towards the Magpies midfielder and didn't want to see him banned for three matches. 
It was Weller's fourth game for the Saints – 36th in total – and after success limiting the influence of ex-teammate Gary Ablett the previous week, was given the task of Scott Pendlebury.
The ball was bounced and Weller gathered the ball after it came off the fingertips of Collingwood ruckman Jarrod Witts.
Sidebottom ran in from centre wing and collected the former Sun in what initially appeared to be a glancing blow.
But it felled Weller and he lay stunned on the ground for a few seconds before attempting to stand.  
"I've never been knocked out like that before. I didn't really know what hit me," Weller told this week.
"I was laying there and I got slapped on the chest by Farren [Ray] and that helped me get back into it but I wasn't ready to stand up.
"But I did and I was mess. I was seeing two and then I sort of stumbled off.
"I reckon I would have been right if I'd stayed down for a bit longer and got my breath and my bearings a bit."
Weller was assessed for concussion in the rooms, and despite showing some improvement and a decent effort in the standard testing, was subbed out.
The fact he was unconscious before he hit the ground worked against him, as did remaining unstable on his feet afterwards.
It was disappointing for Weller. He had built confidence from his job on Ablett just a week earlier and was fired up to take on Pendlebury.
But despite Sidebottom's action – which the Magpie expressed deep regret over in the days following – Weller said he harboured no ill feelings.
"He's actually a ripping guy. I know him through a couple of my mates and he's a fair player – it's not in his nature at all," he said.
"He was great. He came up to me and apologised. I don't hold any bad feelings at all towards him about it.
"It was a pretty big whack, I was pretty surprised – four weeks down to three – but they probably wanted to make a statement with it and it was completely out of my control.
"I don't want to see anyone rubbed out. I would have preferred he played the following week."
While Sidebottom accepted the three weeks and won't play until round 15, Weller recovered to face Port Adelaide last weekend.
He had a light week on the track following the incident as a precaution before undergoing concussion testing on the Thursday.
He proved his fitness in a computer reaction test that compared his brain function to when he sat the same assessment in the pre-season.
"I passed that with flying colours," he said.
"I didn't have any side effects at all and I was able to play."
Weller's role has evolved since his round seven club debut against Hawthorn after being promoted from the rookie list. 
Used as a small defender while he was at the Suns, Weller has become a run-with type who is tasked with a different role each week.
It's a challenge Weller is enjoying, given the constant variations it entails, and he gets plenty out of playing a designated role alongside his new teammates.
"Sometimes I'll go full defensive and sometimes it will be an accountable role and sometimes I might have to play down back or wherever," he said.
"Everyone has a role to play each week and it's different each week.
"It might be Tommy Curren this week, it might be Clint Jones. It might be Lenny Hayes.
"I love the challenge of playing on a good player and doing my role for the team.
"If you do play your role, the boys get around you and you get a kick out of that so I definitely love it.
"I love playing footy and I'm just happy to be back playing in the senior side again and able to contribute."
Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan