Eddie Betts had some weird thoughts with relation to punching.
Eddie Betts had some weird thoughts with relation to punching.

AFL legend ‘staggered’ by punch remarks

EVERYONE was stunned when Andrew Gaff collected the jaw of Andrew Brayshaw with a hellacious left hook.

The horrific footage circulated quickly and lead to an outpouring of emotion, mainly anger in the direction of Gaff.

By now the details of the incident are well known, Brayshaw can't eat solid food for a month while Gaff was handed an eight-week ban.

While the incident stoked the fire and saw the call for red cards to be introduced brought to the forefront of the conversation, it also highlighted punching in the game.

Veteran voice of the AFL Gerard Whateley stated the AFL should be doing more to eradicate the unnecessary action.

Damian Barrett said the league isn't entirely blameless following the horrific Gaff punch after it continually allowed

"We've almost tolerated on the ground where players can jumper punch, throat punch and gut puncht to the point where we've been conditioned to it," Barrett said on AFL's Access All Areas.

Current player Jack Riewoldt believes the fallout from the Gaff incident will see a change in punching penalties going forward.

"I reckon this is a wake-up call. And I reckon it has been simmering … there's been some incidences over this year," he said on Fox Footy's AFL 360.

"Jumper punches really came to a head last year, it was sort of 'hang on a second, we've got to get rid of the jumper punch' … we started to suspend blokes for that, then the gut-punches is probably the one this year that's been a bit more prevalent.

"And it's probably clearly what Andrew Gaff was trying to do to Andrew Brayshaw on the weekend, was gut-punch him and he got him high but this will be a big wake-up call for the AFL."

The moment Gaff collected Brayshaw.
The moment Gaff collected Brayshaw.

But the talk of rubbing players out for any punches being delivered hasn't received every player's vote of confidence.

Adelaide's livewire forward Eddie Betts believes the act of delivering a swift fist to an opponent is just part and parcel of the game.

"Nah, it shouldn't be (banned). That's part of footy. You know, it kind of puts them off their game," Betts told FIVEaa

"As long as you don't hit them in the head and Gaff obviously wasn't trying to hit Brayshaw in the head.

"It's part of the game. That's what backmen do. They play on the forwards and they stand behind and they give them little cheap punches in the back.

"It makes you think where are these punches coming from, and the next contest you've got to worry about the guy punching you again."

His comments didn't sit well with former Melbourne captain and now media personality Garry Lyon.

"Eddie (Betts) said nah, nah, let's keep punching, as long as you don't punch in the head - punch everywhere else," Lyon said on AFL Nation.

"That's a great example to set for young players and young kids who idolise you.

"Imagine a kid goes home and says 'dad, Eddie reckons it's okay to punch (on the footy field), you can punch anywhere, as long as you don't punch them in the head'."

"I was staggered by that. When did punching become part of the game?"

Eddie Betts doesn’t want punching ruled out of the game.
Eddie Betts doesn’t want punching ruled out of the game.

Lyon had earlier in the week called for players to take a stand and employ suspensions for players who punched an opponent.

"I just wonder whether it's time you blokes (the players) as a collective took control of this situation - and it would be unprecedented for you to go to Paddy Dangerfield and say 'listen, we want to lead in this situation. We want to take the ambiguity out of the punch' and say 'we want a week suspension for any punch.'

"And you lead this, the players lead this. Take it out of the AFL's hands - they haven't got it right. We see all the niggle, the cheap ones, we saw Zak Jones the other day before the ball was bounced.

"Take it out, say in actual fact 'we want a suspension, because we want to lead - we want to send a message to the lower grades, we've got to send a message to junior footy - you blokes haven't got it right,' you take control."

After the AFL announced it would reconsider its stance on red cards, perhaps it's time they consider handing down harsher penalties for punching. Whether Eddie Betts likes it or not.


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