THE AFL has written to relevant clubs to inform them of a change in policy for suspensions incurred in state leagues after halving the period Fremantle forward Josh Treacy would be sidelined at the top level.
Treacy, who was suspended for two matches in a WAFL practice match, was set to miss the first four rounds of the AFL season because of the later start to the 2021 WAFL season.
The national Tribunal guidelines required players to serve their bans in the League in which they transgressed, meaning Treacy would have to wait until April 2 to start serving his two-match penalty.
The Dockers asked the AFL to review the guidelines and were yesterday informed Treacy could serve a two-match ban at AFL level and be available for selection in round three.
He would then need to serve a two-match ban at WAFL level in the opening rounds of that season as well, which would only become an issue if he was not selected by Fremantle.
The ruling was a massive win for the Dockers, who are without tall forward Rory Lobb and would be certain to select Treacy this week if available after his seven-goal haul in a WAFL practice match last Saturday.
The AFL made the decision "given that State League seasons are set to begin at a later date compared to the AFL season, which is already underway".
"It has been determined that a player must be suspended from AFL selection for the same period of time as any State League suspension imposed upon him, rather than be ineligible for the period until his State League suspension is served, which would result in a longer-period suspension at AFL level," the AFL said in a statement.
The ruling will also benefit Brisbane after Noah Answerth accepted a two-match ban for rough conduct in a VFL practice match but was set to miss a longer period at AFL level given the VFL season does not start until April 17.
Greater Western Sydney will welcome the ruling after draftee Ryan Angwin chose to challenge a two-match ban for forceful front-on contact against Sydney in a practice match.
Under the AFL's national Tribunal guidelines, there were precedents for players serving longer than prescribed bans at one level because of competitions having different start dates.
The Dockers believed the guidelines should be reviewed, however, and approached the League after their challenge of Treacy's ban at the WAFL Tribunal failed last Wednesday night.
Treacy was recruited from the Bendigo Pioneers with pick No.7 in last December's NAB AFL Rookie Draft, adding much-needed depth to the Dockers' key forward stocks.
His strike on former Docker Brady Grey, which occurred during a tackling action, was re-classified by the WAFL Tribunal to careless conduct, high contact and medium impact, carrying a two-match penalty.
The 18-year-old remains unavailable for Sunday's clash against Greater Western Sydney but will likely make his debut against Carlton in round three.