Returning Gold Coast defender Steven May admits he will be confused the next time he approaches a contest like the one he was controversially suspended for.
May has served his three-week ban for accidental head-high contact on Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff and is expected to come straight back into the Suns side for Saturday’s daunting clash with Hawthorn in Tasmania.
But the 23-year-old has vowed not to change the way he plays the game following an outcry of public support from coaches, players and commentators who believed his suspension was overly harsh.
May appealed the initial two-week ban handed down by the AFL Tribunal after he went in for a hip-and-shoulder on Rockliff early in Gold Coast’s round five meeting with the Lions.
The tribunal rejected May’s argument that he had no option but to bump the Brisbane skipper off the ball and declared the player had to be held liable for the impact of the bump, which left Rockliff concussed and nursing a sore jaw.
“It is a bit confusing, but I’m not going to change the way I attack,” May said on Tuesday.
“The main thing out of the tribunal was that I was unlucky, although unlucky doesn’t come into the result.
“I did make full contact with his body and it did clip him high and as a player that’s my responsibility and my duty of care, so you’ve got to cop the suspension.
“I’m probably going to have to go lower if I do go to bump and make sure I don’t slip up again.”
May said he would be “mindful” of the potential for head-high contact the next time he lines up an opponent for a bump.
“It wasn’t like I got him full in the head, it was almost a follow-through,” he said.
“It was accidental and unlucky, but it’s something the coaches say we can’t afford to have players coming in and out of the side with suspension.”
May admitted he felt “guilty” that his suspension exposed Gold Coast’s young defence against leading key forwards such as West Coast’s Josh Kennedy, Adelaide’s Taylor Walker and Collingwood’s Travis Cloke during the three matches he was sidelined.
The Suns lost all three and face a difficult next few weeks with clashes against top four fancies Hawthorn (away), Sydney (home) and Fremantle (home) to come.
May’s return is timely given the club’s incredible injury toll, which on Monday claimed Dion Prestia (knee), who is set for surgery this week and is unlikely to return this season.
Prestia joins captain Gary Ablett (shoulder), David Swallow (knee) and Jaeger O’Meara (knee) as indefinite absentees while a further 11 names are on their injury list.
May said it was vital whoever comes back into the side puts their body on the line.
“You can’t blame injuries, it’s about going and doing your job,” he said.
“Being defensive and putting pressure on doesn’t take any skill, anyone can do that, it’s just a mindset.”