Former Fremantle skipper Chris Bond says Nat Fyfe had little chance of escaping suspension for his ill-fated decision to bump Gold Coast’s Michael Rischitelli, conceding the star midfielder may need to tweak his game in order to avoid further incidents.
Fyfe is ineligible to win this year’s AFL Brownlow medal after copping a two-week ban for his bump that resulted in a clash of heads with Rischitelli.
The Match Review Panel deemed Fyfe responsible for the high hit because he chose to bump instead of tackle.
Bond, who is now Fremantle’s football operations manger, said the Dockers considered taking Fyfe’s case to the tribunal, but decided against it once their legal team advised the club they would almost certainly lose.
Fyfe’s suspension rules him out of Friday night’s grand final re-match against Hawthorn at the MCG, and next week’s home clash with Essendon.
Defender Zac Dawson will also miss the Hawks clash after being handed a one-match ban for tripping, while star on-baller Michael Barlow will miss between four to six weeks with a knee injury.
Bond rated Fyfe as one of the fairest players he has seen over the past 25 years.
But he knew the 22-year-old would get into trouble over the Rischitelli incident after the AFL had made it clear that a player who chose to bump instead of tackle would be held responsible for any head-high contact.
“We weren’t surprised,” Bond said on Tuesday.
“It’s been discussed through the AFL circles that if there is contact made to the head when there’s a bump, then it’s something they are going to look at seriously.
“Look, it’s a contact game and Nat’s a contact player.
“He’ll continue to play the way he does, but things just have to be tweaked.
“We’re disappointed and so is Nat, but rest assured the AFL did the correct due diligence and the process was exactly right.”
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon suggested Fyfe’s history of shoulder issues may have prompted him to bump instead of risk injury by tackling.
“When he should tackle, he tends to just protect (his shoulder) and move in with his body,” Lyon told Perth radio station 6PR.
“There wasn’t any real intention with Nathan. But the reality is there’s a rule, and there’s an action that he’s done.”
Barlow sprained a ligament in his left knee late in the win over Gold Coast, with the injury set to keep him out of crunch matches against Hawthorn (MCG), Essendon (home), Sydney (SCG), North Melbourne (home), and possibly West Coast (home) and Port Adelaide (AO).
The absence of Dawson, Fyfe and Barlow against the Hawks could open the door for the likes of Clancee Pearce, Garrick Ibbotson, Hayden Crozier, Zac Clarke, Colin Sylvia, Josh Simpson and Alex Silvagni to return to the side.
Hawthorn also have plenty of personnel issues, with premiership stars Luke Hodge (groin), Sam Mitchell (calf), Brad Sewell (hamstring) and Ben Stratton (hamstring) all racing the clock to prove their fitness.