Fremantle forward Sam Switkowski has saved himself a longer ban for his chicken-wing tackle by pleading guilty at the AFL tribunal.
Switkowski was suspended for two games, sidelining him for the Dockers’ clashes against top sides Melbourne and Brisbane as they try to rebound from two consecutive losses.
The 25-year-old was referred directly to the tribunal on a serious misconduct charge for his tackle on Collingwood young gun Jack Ginnivan.
While the Dockers tried to argue for a significant fine, they did not try to talk down the offence.
That proved a smart move, with tribunal chairman Jeff Gleeson pointing out Switkowski’s “emphatic” guilty plea influenced the penalty.
“It will be apparent that in the absence of a comprehensive guilty plea, the sanction would have been higher,” Gleeson said.
Gleeson and jury members Wayne Henwood and Paul Williams took 20 minutes to decide on the penalty.
AFL counsel Andrew Woods had argued for a two-game suspension, while Switkowski’s advocate Seamus Rafferty called for a fine.
But Switkowski was always going to be suspended, given Gleeson said in his ruling the way he moved Ginnivan’s arm up his back in the tackle was “intentional, unsportsmanlike and dangerous.
“Given the two movements and the extent to which Ginnivan’s arm was forced upwards, it is surprising that no injury resulted,” Gleeson added.
The tribunal boss added the guilty plea and two character references, including one from Dockers boss Peter Bell, were mitigating factors in the penalty.
Switkowski was not called to give evidence in the hearing.
Woods said the tackle was unacceptable and “simply wrong”.
Rafferty said Switkowski had no intention to hurt Ginnivan and there was no malice in the tackle, also noting the young Magpie did not remonstrate after the incident.
The Dockers also referred to previous incidents that landed Carlton star Chris Judd, Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt and Geelong captain Joel Selwood in tribunal trouble for dangerous tackles.
But Woods argued the three incidents were different to the Switkowski tackle on Ginnivan.