Stefan Martin’s early return may soften penalty from bump
Gold Coast vice-captain Steven May's argument to have the severity of his rough conduct charge against Brisbane ruckman Stefan Martin downgraded could be helped by the likelihood the Lions big man will play against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Martin was knocked out by a head-high, front-on bump from May in the Q-Clash at the Gabba at the weekend, and took no
further part in the match after being stretchered off with his neck in a brace.
May sought out Martin after the match to apologise, but was shown no compassion by the Match Review Panel, with the case sent straight to the tribunal.
The Suns defender faces several weeks on the sidelines, although the fact Martin passed a concussion test yesterday could help May's plea for a downgrade of the impact which was assessed as "severe" by the MRP.
All charges with that grading are sent straight to the tribunal, where no discount is applied for an early guilty plea. In May's case, he faces an extra week being added to his suspension by virtue of his poor record.
While Lions coach Justin Leppitsch said May's case would be "a very important one in footy", especially coming so soon after the club saw young defender Justin Clarke retire following the ongoing symptoms of concussion, fellow defender Tom Cutler said Martin's health was a priority but he could be right to take on the Dogs.
"I saw him this morning. He's in good spirits," Cutler told reporters.
"His health is number one and football after that. We think he'll be OK."
Cutler acknowledged the incident would intensify the rivalry between the two Queensland clubs, and said it had impacted the players and fans on Saturday night.
"There was a bit of feeling out there, and obviously that incident before half-time added a bit more to it," Cutler said.
"We let the crowd do the booing for us. The crowd was very vocal every time May touched the ball.
"We let them do that as a sort of 19th player for us. Was there a little more in it? Yeah, maybe. We were focused on getting the win and not letting things boil over."
Meanwhile West Coast ruckman Scott Lycett was the only other player set to be suspended from the weekend's games, charged with striking Richmond big man Ty Vickery.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson had urged home fans to "get into him" (Vickery), in the lead-up to the game, which was Vickery's first at Domain Stadium since he copped a four-week ban for striking Eagles ruckman Dean Cox with a roundhouse right at a boundary throw-in during a game in 2014.
Lycett can accept a one-game ban with an early guilty plea.