Luke Hodge’s forearm to the head of North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow will most likely put the Hawthorn skipper out of action for the round-eight AFL grand final rematch against Sydney.
The match review panel referred Hodge directly to the tribunal, with no option of an early plea, for striking Swallow in Saturday night’s bruising clash at Etihad Stadium.
The incident was classified as intentional and high impact to the head.
In assessing it as high impact, the panel referred to the tribunal guideline that “strong consideration will be given to the potential to cause serious injury”.
Immediately after the match, Hodge admitted to “a bit of a brain fade”.
Hawthorn’s best result is that the tribunal only suspends Hodge for two matches.
That would mean he misses the games against GWS and Melbourne, where the Hawks will be strong favourites, and returns for the blockbuster with Sydney.
But the most likely penalty appears to be three games.
Carlton defender Chris Yarran received a three-match suspension a fortnight ago when he was referred straight to the tribunal for striking Essendon veteran Paul Chapman and pleaded guilty.
Hodge’s teammate Jordan Lewis will be available for the Swans clash after he was offered a two-game suspension for striking North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein.
While the Hawks will accept the reduction of Lewis’ ban from three games to two, Gold Coast are set to become the first team this season to challenge an MRP finding.
Stephen May was handed a three-game ban for rough conduct after his bump left Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff concussed.
That penalty would drop to two games with an early plea, but the Suns are keen to fight the charge.
“We’re seriously looking at it,” Suns coach Rodney Eade told SEN.
“We’ve had a lot of media phone up today and say `you have to seriously challenge that’.
“I think Rockliff’s body has dropped just that little bit and made contact just maybe with the top of (May’s) shoulder.”
Last year, Fremantle forward Hayden Ballantyne was referred directly to the tribunal for a bump that left Adelaide defender Matthew Jaensch concussed.
Ballantyne beat his rough conduct charge, with Fremantle successfully arguing he was contesting the ball, and the Suns could use the case as a precedent.
Also on Monday, the MRP offered Richmond backman Alex Rance a $1000 fine for throwing the ball into Geelong captain Joel Selwood’s face.
Brisbane midfielder Nick Robertson can take a $1000 penalty for striking Gold Coast ruckman Tom Nicholls.
But Melbourne defender Colin Garland was cleared of the heavy bump that forced Fremantle captain out of Sunday’s match.
And Demon Lynden Dunn was found to have no case to answer after he kneed Fremantle forward Michael Walters in the head.