NORTH MELBOURNE small forward Brent Harvey will officially miss the first six rounds of 2013 after the AFL appeals board tonight continued its almost-perfect record of rejecting challenges to tribunal rulings.
Harvey was already guaranteed of missing four matches for a striking offence coming in the Kangaroos' elimination-final loss to West Coast, yet he elected to appeal a separate two-match ban - last week upheld by the tribunal - for striking West Coast's Adam Selwood.
There was almost no reliable footage of the incident, in which the players clashed and Selwood left the ground with cuts to his forehead and nose that required sutures.
He arrived at tonight's hearing with a new lawyer, Sam Horgan, SC. Horgan argued the evidence from Selwood, based on an interview with an AFL investigator, should have been inadmissable because it was not given before the tribunal, with a chance for the Kangaroos to cross-examine him.
"There are some obvious questions which needed to be asked in relation to that evidence, which was ambiguous at best," Horgan said.
Nevertheless, tribunal counsel Andrew Tinney, SC, disputed that argument on the basis North Melbourne last week had the option of requesting Selwood formally give evidence before the tribunal, but chose not to.
The three-man appeals board panel - chairman Peter O'Callaghan, QC, Brian Collis, QC and Michael Green - deliberated for about 35 minutes before rejecting the appeal. The panel will formally publish its reasons for rejecting Harvey's appeal but is yet to do so.
After the hearing, Harvey was similarly despondent as he was at last week's hearing.
"I was very confident. It's just disappointing ... it's the same situation as I was in last week. I'm going to be missing six weeks of the AFL season in 2013. It's very disappointing," he said.
While Harvey could have missed only four matches if he had accepted the two striking charges laid by the match review panel, he maintained he was glad he challenged both decisions, despite the additional two-match ban he received.
"I don't regret appealing because I thought we needed to do it. When you're innocent you don't really want to cop what they served up," Harvey said.
Of the 15 cases hear by the AFL appeals board since its creation in 2005 only one has succeeded: Collingwood's Nick Maxwell, against a four-match rough-conduct ban for a bump the broke the jaw of West Coast's Patrick McGinnity.