Drama as Fyfe cleared in AFL

AFL match review panel member Nathan Burke had to step aside from the Nat Fyfe case because of public comments he made before the Fremantle star was cleared.

The league’s football operations manager Mark Evans has confirmed a report in The Australian that he asked Burke not to rule on Fyfe.

The former St Kilda star agreed to step aside from the case.

“I did ask him to step aside from the Fyfe case – it was a more prudent course of action – and Nathan agreed to that,” Evans told AAP.

Burke reportedly said on Sunday radio that he thought Fyfe’s collision with North Melbourne midfielder Ben Jacobs would be ruled as accidental.

Fyfe was booked immediately after the incident during Sunday’s loss for forceful front-on contact.

Evans also stressed he did not think Burke’s comments affected the decision to clear Fyfe of his charge.

Burke and fellow former players Luke Ball, Brad Sewell and Michael Christian are this season’s panel members.

The panel ruled that the contact was incidental and Fyfe did not collide with Jacobs hard enough to warrant a charge.

The decision means Fyfe remains the Brownlow Medal favourite.

If Fyfe was charged, it would have been his third offence this season.

That would have meant a one-game suspension, ruling him ineligible for the Brownlow unless he had successfully challenged it at the tribunal.

Also on Monday, Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge was offered a two-match ban for an ugly bump on Port Adelaide star Chad Wingard.

The Hawks are certain to accept the suspension, meaning Hodge will miss their games against bottom-four teams Brisbane and Carlton before the finals.

Hodge was charged for rough conduct after his hip collected Wingard’s head in a high-speed collision.

Wingard’s head was also sandwiched between Hodge and the point post, but he recovered quickly from what could have been a nasty incident.

The panel ruled it was careless conduct and medium impact to Wingard’s head.

In other MRP findings, Fremantle onballer David Mundy can accept a $1000 fine for striking Kangaroos veteran Brent Harvey while Richmond’s Dustin Martin has been referred to the AFL football operations department.

Martin appeared to give a two-fingered salute to the Collingwood cheer squad during the Tigers’ 91-point win on Saturday and will likely receive a fine.

The match day report against Magpie forward Jarryd Blair for a high bump on Anthony Miles was dismissed.

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