COLLINGWOOD will have Mason Cox available for this week's Grand Final rematch against West Coast, after the tall forward's one-match ban was overturned at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night.
After a complex case that took more than an hour to play out, the jury deliberated for just six minutes before finding Cox not guilty of intentional rough conduct against Richmond defender Dylan Grimes.
Cox's charge was downgraded to careless conduct as a result of the Tribunal's hearing, meaning he will still be made to pay a $3000 fine as a result of the incident.
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The Collingwood forward essentially pleaded not guilty to two of the Match Review's three gradings made last Friday – that of intentional conduct and low impact.
Their case in relation to the argument of impact was aided by Richmond's medical report, which showed that Grimes displayed no signs of concussion as a result of the collision.
But while the Tribunal still thought the contact was worthy of being graded low, they didn't believe it constituted an intentional grading.
"It's done and dusted and we'll move on to West Coast," Cox said afterwards.
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While Collingwood argued against two of the gradings, the AFL's legal counsel, Jeff Gleeson QC, suggested that one aspect of Cox's plea – the question of intent – was "the real battleground" of the case.
In doing so, he proceeded to argue that Cox's block on Grimes was not reasonable given that neither player was close to the drop of the ball at the time of impact.
But Cox said that Grimes was only in his peripheries and that he was looking at the ball just prior to contact being made with the Richmond defender. He later said that he "wasn't paying attention to (Grimes)" at the time of making contact with his opponent.
During his time in the witness chair, Gleeson put it to Cox that he took steps towards Grimes, before moving into him rather than bracing for contact.
The Pies forward rejected both notions, but Gleeson argued the vision was clear: "This is not a reflexive brace for contact … he is seen on the vision to take two or three steps towards Grimes."
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As a counter, the player's representative, Rob O'Neill, argued that Cox didn't turn or lower his body to make contact with Grimes. He also pointed to the patterns of the grass at the MCG to suggest that the Collingwood forward didn't move off his line to hit Grimes.
It was a case that the Tribunal's jury agreed with, as they freed the 211cm American for this Saturday night's Grand Final rematch against West Coast at the MCG.