Clubs must cite character at AFL Tribunal: Cats coach

Anna Harrington |

Chris Scott says clubs must use the “good character” clause to help players at the AFL Tribunal.
Chris Scott says clubs must use the “good character” clause to help players at the AFL Tribunal.

After Charlie Cameron had his rough conduct charge downgraded from a suspension to a
fine at the AFL Tribunal, it is incumbent on clubs now to cite good character to help their players earn lesser sanctions, says Geelong coach Chris Scott.

On Tuesday night, Brisbane Lions star Cameron challenged his one-match ban for a dump tackle on Melbourne defender Jake Lever.

The tribunal – led by chairman Jeff Gleeson – found exceptional and compelling circumstances to use its discretion to turn the ban into a fine, citing Cameron’s clean record throughout his 207-game career.

Character references for Cameron from Adelaide and Carlton champion Eddie Betts and an Indigenous elder also helped sway the tribunal.

The gun forward is now free to face Scott’s Cats at the Gabba on Saturday night.

Charlie Cameron
The AFL Tribunal used its discretion to change Charlie Cameron’s one-match ban into a fine. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Cameron has never been suspended, but had been fined five times before the tribunal case – including three for rough conduct charges.

In 2017 Richmond’s Bachar Houli received just a two-week ban for knocking out Carlton’s Jed Lamb at the tribunal based on the “good character” clause, but it was extended to four weeks after the AFL challenged the decision.

The Cameron case could potentially be used as a precedent, with clubs attempting to draw upon character references or disciplinary records in other hearings.

Asked if the Cats would go down that path with a Geelong player with a similarly clean record, Scott said: “Oh, well, you have to now. 

“Whether you agree with it or not, it’s incumbent on you to use that.

“It would be offensive to any of our players to suggest that they’re of lesser character than the two players in recent history who have successfully used that clause. 

“Because there are plenty of others who have asked for it and been denied, which is highly offensive.”

Asked for his views on the Cameron case, Scott said: “I think the broader conversation is one worth having. 

“I don’t feel like I have anything to add to it right at the moment, except to say that we’re really clear on what the AFL’s trying to do around dangerous tackles and anything that has a potential to cause head trauma.

“I’ve got a view on it, but I just don’t think I can be constructive around that conversation at the moment. Largely that’s because – I’m generally not afraid to contribute my opinion, I think that’s reasonable – but it is much more challenging when you’re playing that team this week.

“When I saw it (the Cameron tackle) I expected him to be playing, so it’s not like it’s overly surprising. The surprising part is how they got to that point.”