AFL mull rule change after Maynard cleared by tribunal

The AFL could tweak the sport's rules at the end of the season after Collingwood's Brayden Maynard was cleared of any wrongdoing over the collision that knocked out Melbourne midfielder Angus Brayshaw.

Debate continues to rage after Maynard was found not guilty of rough conduct during a marathon four-hour hearing at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday, freeing him to play in Collingwood's preliminary final next week.

Maynard had leapt into the air in an attempt to smother the ball and turned his body at the last moment, resulting in his shoulder making contact with Brayshaw's head.

Brayshaw will miss Melbourne's semi-final against Carlton -- and may not play again under a worst-case scenario -- after being badly concussed by the airborne Maynard.

The Collingwood man would have been banned for at least three games if found guilty.

Before Tuesday night's hearing, former West Coast player Hamish Brayshaw -- the brother of Angus -- said it would be an "injustice" if Maynard was able to dodge suspension.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said the tribunal case would define what players' duty of care looked like in such "football acts".

The incident has divided the football world, with the AFL unimpressed by the tribunal's decision.

Although they won't launch an appeal, the league hinted a rule tweak could be made at the end of the season after the incident is further assessed.

"The health and safety of players in our game will always be the AFL's priority and regardless of the tribunal outcome this incident will be subject to close examination at the end of the season," the AFL said in a statement.

"The AFL has actively taken action to minimise the incidence of concussion in our game and has continued to make considered decisions to protect the health and safety of our athletes, including by making further rule changes to deter avoidable forceful head high contact in our game as has been done in over 30 instances over the past two decades."

During the tribunal hearing, AFL counsel Andrew Woods argued Maynard had breached his duty of care by smothering in such a dangerous way.

He also argued Maynard had made a conscious decision to bump after realising contact would be made.

But the AFL Tribunal -- chairman Jeff Gleeson, Scott Stevens and Darren Gaspar -- found Maynard's actions "reasonable".

"He committed to the act of smothering when he was ... several metres from Brayshaw," Gleeson said in his findings.

"We are not at all satisfied that a reasonable player would have foreseen that violent impact, or impact of the type suffered by Brayshaw, was inevitable or even likely."

Maynard said he never made a conscious decision to bump and simply flinched and seized up.

Collingwood called on a biomechanics and neuroscience expert to give evidence that Maynard was highly unlikely to have had enough time to make a decision to bump.

Woods maintained instead of turning his body, Maynard should have either put his hands out to cushion the blow or opened up his arms to collect Brayshaw.

Gleeson said players simply couldn't assess all the different options available to them in such a short period of time.

Former Richmond captain Trent Cotchin, who was freed to play in the 2017 grand final after escaping suspension for a high hit on then-Greater Western Sydney star Dylan Shiel, said it was hard to judge players for split-second decisions.

"The challenge is that when you slow any vision down to microseconds, that's a big difference to what actually happens in the moment," he said.