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Berry beats ban at tribunal, Eagles salty over Rioli’s exit, De Goey contract value soaring

Luke Hodge and a neurosurgeon have combined to free Brisbane’s Jarrod Berry to play in Friday’s AFL preliminary final against Geelong.

The talented Lion’s one-match suspension was dismissed in Tuesday night’s tribunal hearing, Berry’s team successfully arguing his hand contact with Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver’s face during their heated scuffle was justifiable and not intentional.

Berry’s availability is a huge boost for the Lions, who are aiming for their first final in 18 years, given the 24-year-old’s starring role in their win over the Demons.

Brisbane called on triple-premiership Hawthorn captain Hodge and traumatic brain injury specialist Damian Amato as witnesses during a hearing that stretched three hours.

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Hodge, who played with Berry during a two-season stint in Brisbane, vouched for his character while Amato argued he had been placed in a “very vulnerable” position by Oliver.

The doctor believed, contrary to AFL counsel Nick Pane’s assertions, Berry’s actions weren’t a deliberate rake of Oliver’s face and rather “instinctual, flailing movements” to protect himself.

Tribunal chair Jeff Gleeson and the panel agreed, Gleeson summarising Berry “was under threat” and it was “a natural human reaction”. 

He said the tribunal weren’t satisfied Berry knew or could feel where Oliver’s face and eyes were.

He also said Oliver’s arm position meant Berry’s arm movement was restricted and “limited the ability to do much more”.

Berry was grilled by Pane, standing firm when it was put to him that he had dragged Oliver to the ground, had a clear view of his opponent’s face and had targeted his eyes.

Asked why he didn’t protest against Oliver’s rough treatment to the umpires, Berry said he “wasn’t trying to get a free kick”.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Jarrod Berry of the Lions celebrates after the 2022 AFL Second Elimination Final match between the Brisbane Lions and the Richmond Tigers at The Gabba on September 1, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

(Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

There were some awkward moments in the online hearing, Lions’ counsel Adrian Anderson referring to Berry as ‘Jacob’ multiple times.

Anderson also argued Berry was acting in self defence to avoid possible pressure on his airway and restriction of oxygen, while at the same time attempting not to call Oliver’s conduct into question.

Berry, who said he had never been reported or suspended at any level of football, also showed the tribunal his “battered” ring finger he said he’d dislocated more than 100 times in an attempt to show his hand movements weren’t targeting Oliver’s eyes.

Anderson closed by comparing the incident to Adelaide veteran Rory Sloane’s successful downgrade of a similar incident earlier in the year.

He said unlike Sloane, Berry’s arm movement was restricted and his ability to see his opponent’s face severely impaired.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Eagles fuming over Rioli’s trade request

A “bitterly disappointed” West Coast have expressed their dismay at Junior Rioli’s desire to leave the AFL club in a trade to Port Adelaide with an extremely salty statement about his trade demand.

Rioli played in the Eagles’ 2018 premiership team and was supported by the club during a two-year doping ban.

West Coast had offered him a multi-year deal but the club will now seek a trade given the 27-year-old is not a free agent.

“We could not have done any more to support Junior since his infraction in 2019,” West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett said in a statement, in reference to Rioli being handed a two-year drugs ban after he swapped a urine sample to avoid testing positive to marijuana.

“We facilitated his appeal and subsequent return to football, so this decision is bitterly disappointing.

“We will put that disappointment to one side now and work to arrange a suitable trade for a player who has high end talent, is a premiership player and is in the prime of his career, having played just 51 games of senior football.

“Junior has made his decision and while he has indicated Port is his preferred destination we will work to get the best outcome for our club.”

In-form De Goey adding zeroes to next deal

Collingwood are reaping the rewards from a fit and happy Jordan De Goey as the off-contract star rises to the occasion of the AFL finals.

De Goey’s future looked to be elsewhere after his ill-fated trip to Bali during the mid-season bye, as Collingwood took a contract offer for him off the table.

But the 26-year-old has turned his career prospects around by behaving off the field and starring on it.

The midfield-forward has recaptured the electric finals form of 2018 in Collingwood’s clashes with Geelong and Fremantle.

De Goey was the Magpies’ best in a losing cause against the Cats, before backing it up during the 20-point win over the Dockers last Saturday night.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Jordan De Goey of the Magpies looks on during the round 16 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Collingwood Magpies at Metricon Stadium on July 02, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Jordan De Goey. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

He is level with Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale on 15 votes in the Gary Ayres Award for best finals player.

“This time of year brings out the best in Jordy,” Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe told reporters.

‘Even going back to 2018, he had a remarkable four weeks there as well and it’s just nice to have him happy, healthy, fit and firing. 

“The footy suits him at this time of year, we certainly get the rewards for him playing the way he is at the moment.”

Howe is hoping De Goey has plenty more games with Collingwood left in him ahead of Saturday’s preliminary final against the Sydney Swans.

De Goey has attracted interest from rival clubs, most notably St Kilda, but anyone connected to Collingwood desperately wants him to stay.

“You can only judge him on the way he carries himself throughout the club and he certainly seems as invested as he ever has been,” Howe said.

“I don’t get into contract stuff, I just don’t think that’s fair on him and our relationship’s not like that.

“I feel like the way he presents and what he’s been doing since he came back (from the break) has been remarkable. I can’t fault the way he goes about it on and off the field.”

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