West Coast star Andrew Gaff has copped a season-ending eight-match ban by the AFL tribunal for his sickening hit on Andrew Brayshaw.
The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to the off-the-ball strike during the two-hour hearing in Melbourne overnight, however claimed he was aiming for Bradshaw’s chest and not his head.
The brutal hit left young Fremantle midfielder Andrew Brayshaw with a fractured jaw and four displaced teeth.
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Speaking after the hearing, Gaff apologised “wholeheartedly” to his opponent.
“First of all, I just want to say I’m so, so sorry for Andrew and the Brayshaw family and the pain I’ve caused them over the last 48 hours,” an emotional Gaff said.
“I respect the Brayshaw boys so much and the way they go about it.
“I own my actions and it really hurts a lot. The last 48 hours have probably been the toughest couple of days of my life. The people that I’ve spoken to know the world of pain I’m in and how much I’m suffering.
“I see myself as a caring, gentle and measured person. That’s why it’s disappointing.
“I’m disappointed for Andrew, I’m disappointed in myself, I’m disappointed to let my teammates down at an important time of the year and I’m disappointed to let my supporters down as well.
“For the time being, I’m going to surround myself with my friends and family and those who care for me most. But once again, I just want to apologise wholeheartedly to Andrew and I hope he gets better soon.”
Gaff’s ban is the joint-longest AFL suspension this century.