Brisbane’s Jarrod Berry free to play prelim final against Cats after beating eye-gouging charge

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

Key points:

  • Jarrod Berry told the tribunal he did not intentionally make contact with the area around Clayton Oliver’s eye
  • Luke Hodge was called upon to provide a character witness
  • Berry will run out with the Lions against Geelong in Friday night’s preliminary final

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 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 Armato as witnesses during a hearing that stretched three hours.

Hodge, who played with Berry during a two-season stint in Brisbane, vouched for his character while Armato 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”.

Author: Ivan Robinson