Collingwood say they had no choice but to suspend star Dane Swan, despite jeopardising their chances of an AFL top two finish and the midfielder’s hopes of back-to-back Brownlow Medals.
The Magpies on Tuesday banned the in-form 28-year-old for two games for going out drinking on Sunday night.
Magpies football manager Geoff Walsh said Swan had broken team rules and no allowances could be made regardless of a player’s talent.
“We felt that couldn’t be ignored,” Walsh told the Magpies’ television show The Club on Fox Footy on Tuesday night.
“The breach is a clear mandate from the playing group and supported by the entire football department that six days before a game you shouldn’t be out and about, let alone drinking.
“I don’t think we’re cutting off our nose at all.
“What we are doing is quite the contrary, reaffirming and endorsing that we have rules and regulations that everyone, whether they’re the best in the playing group or they’re No.500 on your list, that we all operate and live by.”
The club’s players reportedly recently made a pledge to refrain from drinking alcohol for the rest of the season.
Walsh said Swan was remorseful and accepted he had let the club down.
Swan is a three-time Collingwood best and fairest, including in their 2010 premiership year, and won the AFL’s Brownlow Medal last season.
He was among the top few favourites for this year’s award and has been in exceptional form.
In his past eight matches, Swan has averaged a remarkable 39 disposals and he has kicked nine goals in the past three rounds.
His absence for clashes with the Swans and Kangaroos, two of the competition’s form sides, could prove crucial for the third-placed Magpies.
A loss to the Swans would leave them two games plus percentage off top spot.
With second-placed Adelaide having a dream draw over the remaining four rounds, it would also mean Collingwood would be unlikely to overtake the Crows.
Assuming they don’t drop out of the top four, that would most likely mean the Magpies would face an interstate trip on the opening finals weekend.
Swan is the second player this year suspended by the club, with Sharrod Wellingham banned for the opening two rounds for drinking while injured.
It comes a day after Western Bulldogs young gun Tom Liberatore was banned by his club for the rest of the year, after being found unconscious by the police and with an illicit drug in his possession on the weekend.