Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has criticised Steele Sidebottom’s three-game AFL suspension, saying the midfielder’s intent was not malicious.
Sidebottom jumped off the ground and then collected Maverick Weller with a high elbow in the opening seconds of last Friday night’s game.
The St Kilda midfielder missed the rest of the game with concussion.
The Magpies accepted Sidebottom’s suspension and would have risked a four-game ban if they took the case to the tribunal.
But Buckley argued Weller’s injury, not Sidebottom’s intent, made the penalty so severe.
“First and foremost, Steele is a ball player,” Buckley said.
“With the way incidents are adjudicated these days, as soon as Weller went off knocked out, the misfortune of that injury was enough to send Steele for weeks.
“Given that the AFL are now trying to legislate for misfortune … Steele could have gone into that contest with a far greater malicious intent and hurt Weller less and received a lesser penalty for a greater intent.
“But because the injury is now taken into account, you can get unlucky – Steele got unlucky.”
Asked if he agreed with that philosophy, Buckley said: “this week, less than I normally do and I normally don’t agree with it.
“I don’t know what Steele learns from that, other than he probably could have made a different decision at the time.”
Sydney star Adam Goodes was also off the ground when he made high contact with Geelong captain Joel Selwood, but the match review panel cleared him.
“I haven’t sat down and compared Steele’s incident to others – I think that’s folly,” Buckley said.
“I’m going to pull my hair out if we go too far down that track.
“Looking at Steele’s in isolation, I think he’s a bit stiff in regards to how cleanly the contact occurred and how much damage occurred in the short-term.”
Luke Ball, Dane Swan and Brodie Grundy missed the St Kilda game, but they all trained on Tuesday morning and will be fit for the Queen’s Birthday match against Melbourne.
Jesse White suffered a compound finger dislocation against the Saints, but will also be ready for the Demons.
It’s a big week for White, with his wife due to give birth on Wednesday.