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Eagles’ Brayshaw blunder: Poor taste, or the perfect match simulation sledge?

FOOTAGE emerged overnight of West Coast’s Andrew Gaff attempting a set-shot goal at training, with team-mate Nathan Vardy yelling ‘ANDREW BRAYSHAW’ in an attempt to put him off.

The video has been widely criticised on social media for being in poor taste, given Gaff broke the Fremantle youngster’s jaw and displaced a number of his teeth in a fiery Western Derby clash last year, for which he received an eight-game suspension.

Gaff watched from the sidelines later that year as the Eagles went on to win the flag, while Brayshaw missed the rest of the season.

Social media users have been quick to condem West Coast for posting the video online, and Vardy for making the remark.

Gaff, on Perth’s Mix 94.5FM this morning, labelled Vardy’s jibe as “disrespectful and in poor taste”, while Dockers coach Ross Lyon has also condemned it.

But putting the outrage aside, when you strip everything else away, wouldn’t this logically be the best possible way to try and distract Gaff during a shot on goal?

Before you hit the ‘outraged’ button, hear me out.

The incident that occurred in round 20 last year will forever be the lowest point in Gaff’s career.

Once widely-renowned for his fairness – he had never been reported, or even fined, for an on-field indiscretion prior to the strike on Brayshaw – the Eagles midfielder will, rightly, have his career record blighted by that act from now until the end of time.

Because this was such a low-point for Gaff, would it not make sense that referencing the incident during a set shot on goal would be the best way to try and put him off?

Gaff may never cop the jibe from an opponent in a game – if he did it would no doubt be in the headlines within hours, just as the Vardy comment has been – but there’s a very good chance he’ll be reminded of it by opposition supporters at some point.

This is especially likely if he’s lining up for goal near to the boundary line (unless, of course, the AFL’s new Behavioural Awareness Officers don’t jump in and intervene first).

If anything, yelling ‘ANDREW BRAYSHAW’ at Gaff during a training exercise is probably the closest he could get to a proper match simulation, and having to execute the skill with the Derby incident firmly at front of mind.

Sure, it’s not a great look for West Coast in that it appears to make light of the seriousness of the Brayshaw incident, and whoever runs the Eagles social media account has without doubt been raked over the coals in the past 12 hours for posting it online.

But punching an opponent in the jaw – which can never be condoned – and having a team-mate reminding you of the time you punched said opponent in the jaw aren’t the same thing.

In terms of trying to distract Andrew Gaff from kicking at goal, there’s probably no other remark that could have a greater influence on putting him off – which is exactly what Vardy and his Eagles team-mates were trying to do.

And for the record, he missed the shot.

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Grady grew up in Bordertown in the state’s South East, around 10 minutes from the Victorian border, and is a Geelong Cats tragic and a lover of sports. Grady has worked in the journalism field for more than six years at a number of regional newspapers. He plays cricket for Trinity Old Scholars, and doesn’t mind teeing it up at some of the fantastic golf courses scattered across Adelaide and its surrounding regions.