HAWTHORN captain Luke Hodge has been suspended for three matches at the Tribunal on Tuesday night after pleading guilty to striking North Melbourne midfielder Andrew Swallow.
The penalty means he will miss the Grand Final rematch against the Sydney Swans at the MCG in round eight as well as matches against Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne in the next fortnight.
Hodge showed genuine remorse when he fronted the Tribunal and explained he had apologised to both Swallow and North Melbourne coach Brad Scott since Saturday night's match. His counsel Chris Townsend QC pushed for a two-match ban, given Hodge's guilty plea and the impact of the strike.
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However, the jury of Wayne Henwood, Richard Loveridge and Shane Wakelin maintained the Match Review Panel's view that there was a risk of serious injury in handing down its final penalty.
Hodge apologised to Swallow on-field on Saturday night and said he had spoken to him since to make sure the Kangaroos skipper knew he didn't intend to strike him high.
The two-time Norm Smith medallist told the Tribunal he had intended to strike Swallow to the chest. He said although he played a physical style of football, there was no excuse for what he did.
"I definitely did not mean to get him as high as I did, but in saying that I was silly enough to do it and have to cop the punishment," Hodge said as he left AFL House.
"I don't stand for that as a footballer and I don't stand for that as a person.
"I definitely believe there's no room in our game for incidents like that, (so) I'll cop the three weeks and move on from there."
Gold Coast defender Steven May was the first player to face the Tribunal on Tuesday night, failing in his bid to overturn a rough conduct charge for his high bump on Brisbane Lions captain Tom Rockliff.
May, who could have accepted a two-week penalty from the Match Review Panel but chose to challenge, will now miss three matches, against Adelaide, West Coast and Collingwood.
The 23-year-old argued he had no alternative way to contest the ball in Saturday's QClash when he chose to bump Rockliff. He said his only options would have been to dive on the ball and give away a free kick for taking his opponent's legs out, or pull out of the contest all together.
"He was closest to the ball and he looked like he was going to soccer the ball or pick it up … I could not have got to the ball before him," May told the Tribunal.
"I was going for shoulder-to-shoulder contact.
"I was coming in and keeping my feet but he's bending down ... most of the contact is in his ribs/shoulder area."
The jury took 20 minutes to reach their conclusion, agreeing with the MRP's classifications of careless conduct, high impact high contact.
Gold Coast football manager Marcus Ashcroft suggested on Tuesday night the Suns could challenge the decision at the Appeals Board.
"We need to make sure we're considered and thoughtful and sit down tomorrow and go through all the facts," he told Fox Footy.
"We want to do the right thing by our player."
Included in the evidence was a medical report from the Lions that stated Rockliff was unconscious after the hit and required immediate on-field treatment. He also suffered concussion, neck pain and jaw soreness in the following days and could miss this week's clash against Carlton at Etihad Stadium.
AFL legal counsel Jeff Gleeson conceded May was unlucky but suggested he could have bent down to collect the ball, rather than choose to bump his opponent.
"It wasn't dirty, it wasn't a cheap shot and it was in play," Gleeson told the Tribunal.
"He just collected the wrong part of Mr Rockliff."