Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge has been handed a three-game suspension by the AFL Tribunal for striking North Melbourne’s Andrew Swallow.
The charge was referred directly to the tribunal by the league’s match review panel.
The three-time premiership player was contrite on Tuesday night, pleading guilty and detailing how he intended to strike the chest of the Kangaroos skipper.
Hodge will miss matches against Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne and Sydney.
Hodge, who has won two Norm Smith medals, said he had contacted Swallow and North Melbourne coach Brad Scott to explain his side of things.
“Just to let them know that I was sorry and apologetic,” Hodge testified.
“I felt like I had to.
“It was a genuine mistake and I didn’t mean to make contact where I did. It was meant to be the chest.
“I was trying to go to him (during last Saturday’s match) and explain I didn’t mean to get him where I did .. I was falling off balance.”
AFL legal counsel Jeff Gleeson QC argued that a penalty of three or four matches would be appropriate.
“This was a particularly nasty strike. It was thrown with considerable force and thrown in an upward motion,” Gleeson said.
Swallow was not hurt by the blow, but Gleeson noted the three-man jury must consider the “potential to cause serious injury” given he was struck on the head.
Player advocate Chris Townshend QC pushed for a two-match ban and suggested anything longer than three weeks would be excessive.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hodge’s teammate Jordan Lewis accepted a two-game ban for a crude spoil that struck Todd Goldstein on the head.
Meanwhile, Gold Coast defender Steven May was banned for three games by the tribunal.
May could have accepted a two-match ban with an early plea in response to his head-high bump on Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff.
Instead he challenged the rough conduct charge and will now miss games against Adelaide, West Coast and Collingwood.
AFL legal counsel Jeff Gleeson QC successfully argued May could have picked up the ball instead of bumping Rockliff, who was knocked out in the contest.
Gleeson noted May was “unlucky”, but urged the three-man jury to “forget that fact and apply the rules”.
May testified there was nothing else he could do in the situation.
“Tom was running into an open goal … I had to bump him out of the way,” the 23-year-old said.
“I couldn’t tackle, he didn’t have the ball and it’d be a free kick.
“I couldn’t dive on the ball, because that’s a free kick.
“I was going for shoulder to shoulder and … most of the body contact was to the ribs, shoulder.”
– with AAP