Sydney superstar Lance Franklin will not face reigning Melbourne premiers after the AFL tribunal upheld his one-game ban for striking on Wednesday night.
Franklin was slapped with the ban on his strike over Richmond’s Trent Cotchin in the Swans’ thrilling victory last Friday.
In notable scenes, Sydney lawyer Duncan Miller argued Cotchin had ‘overdone’ the contact he had received, claiming the Tigers star could win an invite to the ‘Logies’ rather than the Brownlow Medal.
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“We say he touched his chin…it’s eye contact,” Miller explained.
“The exaggerated backward head movement and the rest of the images show exactly what it was – there is a wry smile on Mr. Cotchin’s face.”
But Tribunal President Jeff Gleeson disagreed with the assessment and determined that Franklin intended to punch Cotchin.
“He was looking directly at it,” Gleeson said.
“He was obviously upset to be blocked looking at the ball.”
The Swans argued Franklin’s strike was a “shoulder shot put” thrust that went awry because Cotchin raised his arm, forcing high contact.
Miller claimed Franklin’s conduct was unintentional, with the Swan star giving evidence that he was simply trying to push Cotchin away.
When asked directly if he intended to hit Cotchin high, Franklin replied, “Absolutely not.”
“I would never do that,” he said.
“It’s not in the spirit of the game – I certainly wouldn’t have done that.”
Franklin dismissed the suggestion that Cotchin was “getting under his skin”.
But AFL lawyer Andrew Woods argued Franklin was “angry” that Cotchin was restricting the star’s “freedom” when contact was made, saying his actions were “cowardly”.
“Franklin’s eyes are squarely on Cotchin throughout,” Woods.
“Franklin hits him off the ball – that determines the intention.
“The frustration and anger that is visibly demonstrated in the video, it shows that he clearly went after Cotchin.
“You can be comfortably convinced that Franklin intended to hit Cotchin.”
It was agreed that Franklin’s contact with Cotchin took place in three stages – the first an open palm thrust, the second the alleged strike and the third a bump after a free kick was reversed in favor of Cochin.
Miller said the intent and force of the first touch was the same as used in the second action – but blamed Cotchin’s lifting arm for Franklin’s hand moving higher than intended.
“While the first move, the open-handed push to the chest, was considered by the MRO not to constitute a strike, the second identical move – a second open-handed push, was no different,” Miller said.
Richmond’s medical report showed that Cotchin did not need any medical treatment or missed any training as a result of Franklin’s contact.
Woods said it was only through an “element of luck” that Cotchin was unharmed by Franklin’s actions, although the Swans maintained the contact was negligible – not low as it was rated.
“It was powerful, direct; Cotchin’s head is suddenly thrown back,” Woods explained.
“I don’t quite understand how this could be presented as negligible.
“It was an intentional strike.”
This is not the first time Franklin has appeared on the AFL court – last year he was suspended from one game for hitting Fremantle’s Luke Ryan off.
Franklin’s rap sheet on the MRO charges saw him convicted 16 times, fined a total of $13,750, and missed seven games by suspension.
Recap the AFL Tribunal hearing in our blog post below!