Melbourne forward Kysaiah Pickett has copped a two-match ban for his brutal bump on Western Bulldog Bailey Smith on Saturday night.
Pickett was brilliant in the Demons’ 50-point demolition of the Bulldogs, but will have to watch when they meet the Brisbane Lions and Sydney Swans – the two sides that eliminated them from last year’s finals – in the next fortnight.
Set to join the 21-year-old on the sidelines is Swans superstar Lance Franklin, whose own bump on Gold Coast defender Sam Collins cost him a one-match suspension.
Match review officer Michael Christian classified Pickett’s rough conduct charge as careless conduct, high impact and high contact.
Christian’s high impact call was critical to the finding, given Smith quickly bounced to his feet and played the match out. Pickett could have escaped with even a fine in the scenario the impact was judged to be low.
But it was always unlikely that Pickett and Franklin would avoid a ban as the AFL faces a series of concussion lawsuits and the topic of brain injuries becomes increasingly prominent.
Jimmy Bartel, who was previously on the match review panel, had warned earlier on 3AW that Pickett’s sanction, and others like it, could be “something we don’t want” due to the AFL’s rigid table of offences.
“I think the issue we’ve got for Michael Christian, being the match review officer, he has a table of offences he has to plug it into,” Bartel said.