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Swans to contest Brownlow contender Heeney's AFL ban

3 minute read

Isaac Heeney could yet remain in Brownlow Medal contention as Sydney prepare to challenge the superstar's one-match ban for striking St Kilda's Jimmy Webster.

ISAAC HEENEY.
ISAAC HEENEY. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Sydney will appeal the AFL tribunal's decision to uphold Isaac Heeney's striking suspension as debate rages around Brownlow Medal eligibility criteria.

Heeney was unsuccessful in overturning his one-match ban for striking St Kilda's Jimmy Webster during a lengthy tribunal hearing on Tuesday night.

As it stands, the 28-year-old will miss the ladder-leading Swans' clash with North Melbourne on Saturday and is out of the running for the competition's highest individual honour.

But a successful appeal would mean Heeney is reinstated as one of the Brownlow favourites.

Carlton captain Patrick Cripps, who won the Brownlow two years ago after he had a two-match rough conduct ban overturned on appeal, on Tuesday joined calls for a review of eligibility criteria.

Essendon coach Brad Scott praised Cripps for putting the debate "on the table" and also believed there should be a review of eligibility at season's end.

"There's always been an element of fairest in the Brownlow. You can win your club best and fairest when you're suspended but you can't win the Brownlow. I think we all understand why," he said.

"But the game has changed significantly where players are in incredibly difficult positions at times and for the right reasons - we protect the head, we protect all these things.

"But for somewhat of an innocuous incident in the scheme of things to rule someone out from Brownlow eligibility, I think is harsh and needs to be looked at or at least discussed so everyone can have their view on it.

"Whether it was something like an intentional act might rule you out of the Brownlow but not a careless one.

"Because we're talking about careless acts that are 0.001-of-a-second decisions, I mean, then they're not intentional, they're not, in the old vernacular, 'dirty acts'.

"It's certainly well worth the discussion."

Scott was pressed on whether eligibility should be based on whether actions were football acts or not.

"We can look at all the technicalities, but it comes down to a bit of let's just have a common sense discussion about well, what is the feel of this?" he said.

"Do we feel that Isaac Heeney should be ruled out from Brownlow eligibility for that?

"My personal view is no. But I think it's an industry discussion that's worth having."

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin also backed calls for a review of Brownlow eligibility criteria.

Sydney have several options to consider in their grounds for appeal in the Heeney case.

Under AFL rules, the Swans could argue there was an error of law during the tribunal hearing, that the decision was unreasonable, or that the classification of the offence or sanction imposed were manifestly excessive.

Club officials are confident they have one of the four covered but are keeping their cards close to their chest.

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