AFL tribunal got it right on Cameron: Fagan

Roger Vaughan |

Charlie Cameron is free to face Geelong after the AFL tribunal swapped his ban for a fine.
Charlie Cameron is free to face Geelong after the AFL tribunal swapped his ban for a fine.

Chris Fagan is adamant the AFL tribunal was right to downgrade Charlie Cameron’s recent punishment, freeing the Brisbane Lions star to play in the home blockbuster against Geelong.

The Lions coach was unsurprised about the reaction to the controversial decision, but insisted questions should be directed at the tribunal – not him.

“I’m arguing to you it was low impact – interview the tribunal, don’t interview me. I didn’t make the decision,” Fagan said on Friday ahead of Saturday night’s clash at the Gabba.

“There’s always debate, isn’t there, about what the tribunal has decided and what they don’t decide.

“I wasn’t surprised it was debated.”

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan.
Questions about the tribunal’s change of heart should be directed to the AFL, Chris Fagan says. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Earlier this week, the tribunal downgraded Cameron’s one-match ban to a fine for rough conduct, after his dump tackle on Melbourne defender Jake Lever during the Lions’ 22-point round-five win.

Brisbane unsuccessfully argued the incident should be graded as low impact, rather than medium.

But they convinced the tribunal Cameron should only be fined because he had never been suspended in his 207-game career.

The tribunal ruled there were exceptional and compelling circumstances that warranted downgrading the penalty, even though Cameron has been fined five times – three of them for rough conduct.

“When you go to the tribunal you use everything at your disposal to try and free up your player, which every club does,” Fagan said.

“If a bloke’s got a good record, he’s played 200 games and never been suspended for a match, you’d at least give that a mention, otherwise you’d be remiss in your duty to that player.”

Despite the tribunal ruling the tackle was medium impact, Fagan remained adamant it was low.

“Was Jake Lever hurt? No, he wasn’t,” he said. “Did he go off for a concussion test? No, he didn’t.

“Was there a medical report from Melbourne about his condition? No, there wasn’t.

“So, on every measure, the impact of that incident was low.”

Fagan said Cameron had been unaffected by the debate.

“He’s a tough guy – he’s happy that he’s playing,” the coach said.

The Cats are unbeaten, while the Lions proved they are back in form with last week’s upset win over the Demons at the MCG.

Fagan said Geelong’s 5-0 start “speaks volumes” about how they are playing. 

“I would say they’re the favourites because they’ve been the team in the best form – they’ve been in outstanding form,” he said.

Action from Brisbane Lions v Carlton at the Gabba.
The Lions are keen to get back to winning ways at the Gabba as Geelong head to Brisbane. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Meanwhile, the Lions have lost their last two games at ‘Fortress Gabba’.

“It’s something the players are proud of – they’ve built that up. There was a time when we couldn’t win here,” Fagan said.

“One of the first steps in our growth as a club and as a team was to become a hard team to play against at home. We’ve done that pretty well … but just recently, not quite so good.”

Fagan confirmed Jarryd Lyons would start as Brisbane’s sub after he was brought in to replace injured forward Zac Bailey.

He refused to answer questions about who might play on in-form Cats forward Jeremy Cameron, with Harris Andrews an obvious candidate.

AAP