West Coast’s Gaff faces year-ending AFL ban over punching Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw

Andrew Gaff of the Eagles looks dejected sitting on the bench during the round 20 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium on August 5, 2018 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Andrew Gaff of the Eagles looks dejected sitting on the bench during the round 20 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium on August 5, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

DAYS after they shared a game of golf, Andrew Gaff ended Andrew Brayshaw’s AFL season and now Gaff faces the same fate.

The West Coast star will front the tribunal on Tuesday night for the punch that left Brayshaw with a broken jaw.

The Fremantle teenager cannot eat solids for a month.

Gaff was referred directly to the tribunal after the incident during Sunday’s tumultuous Western Derby.

It is the biggest tribunal case of the year, eclipsing the five-game suspension for GWS star Jeremy Cameron.

Precedents point to a seven-game ban for Gaff and that would end his season.

His best case is that the penalty somehow is reduced to six matches.

But even then the only way he returns this year is if the Eagles make the grand final after losing their qualifying final, which is likely to be in Perth.

Sydney forward Barry Hall was suspended for seven games in 2008 after he knocked out West Coast opponent Brent Staker.

Last year, Melbourne forward Tomas Bugg knocked out Sydney defender Callum Mills in a similar incident to Gaff’s punch.

Bugg was banned for six weeks, but significantly Mills played the following week.

That incident was graded as high impact – Gaff’s was graded as severe and also intentional.

The golf game last week is a bizarre twist in the case.

The pair played a round with Brayshaw’s older brother Hamish, who is on the Eagles list.

Gaff is expected to appear in person at Tuesday’s Melbourne hearing and throw himself at the mercy of the three-man jury.

His direct referral means the penalty is up to the tribunal jury.

Gaff had a spotless tribunal record before Sunday and he is shattered.

It is understood he meant to punch Brayshaw in the chest.

Whatever happens at the tribunal hearing, he faces a lengthy suspension that will also be a huge blow to the Eagles’ premiership chances.

They are already without Nic Naitanui because of a knee reconstruction.

Gaff’s punch has renewed calls for an AFL send-off rule.

It also prompted a statement from WA Police after talk that Gaff should face a criminal charge for the punch.

West Coast have apologised to the Brayshaw family and to the Dockers over the incident.