STRINGENT rules protecting players who bend down while attempting to gain possession could rob a finals contender of a key player for a second successive week.
Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin missed his team's loss to Adelaide at the weekend after being suspended for making forceful front-on contact to West Coast's Jack Darling.
Pivotal Geelong forward Steve Johnson is expected to be scrutinised by the match review panel today for a similar offence.
In the first quarter of Friday night's West Coast-Geelong match, Johnson's focus momentarily shifted from seeking possession to bumping the Eagles' Adam Selwood, who was approaching from the opposite direction. Selwood was bending down with the ball about one metre ahead of him when he was struck on the shoulder by a bump from Johnson. Selwood was unhurt.
Geelong's James Kelly avoided a charge in a similar incident earlier this year due to a lack of impact.
If Johnson is charged, the expected base punishment would be 125 points, low enough to be reduced to a reprimand for a guilty plea. But the Cat would not qualify for that as his 30 per cent loading for prior offences and 78 carry-over points would increase his base penalty to 240.5 points.
A guilty plea would cut that penalty to one match, although an unsuccessful tribunal challenge would see him miss both Friday night's match against St Kilda and Geelong's following match against the Western Bulldogs.
Carlton playmaker Bryce Gibbs could be scrutinised for a vigorous tackle on Brisbane's Rohan Bewick, although the lack of two distinct movements in the tackle, as well as a lack of undue force, could save him from a rough-conduct charge.
Meanwhile, Sydney midfielder Kieren Jack's Brownlow Medal hopes should remain intact irrespective of whether he is cited for stepping on the hand of Collingwood's Dayne Beams on Saturday night.
Jack stepped over Beams as the ball ran out of play and, seemingly without realising, trod on his Magpies opponent.
If the in-form Swan is charged with misconduct, the most recent precedent is that he would be given a fine.
In round 11, Geelong's Josh Hunt was able to accept a $1350 fine for stepping on the hand of Carlton's Eddie Betts.
Essendon's Nathan Lovett-Murray could be punished for a collision that hurt both him and his opponent, North Melbourne's Lachie Hansen, yesterday. Hansen was crouched with his hands on the ball when he and Lovett-Murray collided, seemingly with each hitting their head on the other's shoulder.
While there was no malice from Lovett-Murray and he had little time to make a decision, the Bomber will not be helped because he braced to bump Hansen as the North forward had his head over the ball.