Fix rule that could’ve cost Cotchin: Hodge

Luke Hodge has proposed a minor tweak to an element of the AFL’s disciplinary process that left Trent Cotchin and other stars stewing this September.


Richmond guns Cotchin and Dustin Martin plus Sydney’s Lance Franklin were among a handful of players walking a match-review-panel tightrope in finals.

The trio were fined twice this year for minor offences. League rules dictate a third fine for another slight indiscretion would result in an automatic one-game ban.

It is why Cotchin, who collected Dylan Shiel high in last Saturday’s preliminary final, needed to be cleared altogether to play in Saturday’s grand final against Adelaide.

Recently-retired Hawthorn champion Hodge, who has happy to see Cotchin escape punishment, feels everybody’s rap sheet should be reset at the start of finals.

“So something a little tiggy touchwood like that isn’t going to make you miss a final or a grand final,” Hodge told reporters at Greater Western Sydney’s grand-final lunch.

“I reckon they should cut it off at the end of the home-and-away season. Because finals start fresh.

“At least that way players can play with freedom in finals.

“You want blokes going out there playing hard football. It’s live or die in finals, you want blokes having a red-hot crack.”

It is a law that Hodge fell foul of after round 19 in his final season. The four-time premiership player unsuccessfully challenged his third fine of the year at the tribunal.

The dual Norm Smith medallist noted the AFL deserved a lot of credit for “cleaning up our game” in recent seasons.

“I’m not criticising (the match review panel) at all,” he said.

Hodge, who tipped Cotchin to be named best on ground in Saturday’s season decider at the MCG, added the panel made the right decision on Monday.

“I can understand why people sort of said he might get suspended,” Hodge said.

“It looked like they were both going for the ball … Cotch went in just as low.

“Obviously it’s bad because Shiel misses out the rest of the final, he’ll be heartbroken.”