With Peter Wright receiving a four-match ban from the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night, Essendon have elaborated on their decision surrounding the suspension.

Wright’s collision with Sydney’s Harry Cunningham last Saturday was graded as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact by the AFL Match Review Officer, referred directly to the Tribunal as a result.

Based on the MRO grading, the AFL sought a minimum suspension of four weeks for Wright, with Essendon’s legal representative Ben Ihle KC recommending the Bombers take a guilty plea to all charges and attempt to reduce the suspension to three weeks.

Ihle KC is recognised internationally as a leading sports lawyer and regularly represents athletes in a variety of tribunals.

In February 2024, the AFL announced a series of rule changes to make the game safer with a focus on high contact.

Had the club pled not guilty and challenged the charges, expert legal advice concluded that Wright would’ve risked receiving a suspension of more than four matches as a result.

Senior Coach Brad Scott addressed the club’s decision on the verdict at his media conference on Wednesday morning.


“My job is to let the professionals do their work, but what I want to clearly articulate to our supporters is that our barristers investigated every single possible angle to challenge the charge and investigate a not guilty plea,” Scott said.

“The advice after challenging every single angle was that it just wasn’t possible. The AFL have iterated their rules based on the current environment, based on the challenges around concussion in contact sports and based on previous decisions in previous years.

"We really want to encourage our players to make the ball their object and we still feel that 'Pete' made the ball his object. He had to make an absolute split-second decision (but) we still feel he did his best to mitigate contact.

“For our fans, we had a choice. We can take the expert legal advice and plead guilty to try and reduce the suspension from four weeks to three, which is what we sought to achieve, and the advice was if we didn’t do that, we risked six weeks plus.

“Players are in an incredibly difficult position, but we also understand the environment that we’re operating within. Ultimately, we hope that Harry Cunningham’s okay and that he makes a speedy recovery, we don’t want to see players getting hurt and Peter Wright’s intention wasn’t to hurt (Harry)."

Wright is frustrated to be missing the next month but will be looking forward to making an impact upon his eventual return to the line-up.

“I’m disappointed to be missing the next four games and the findings reflect the changing nature of community standards when it comes to the adjudication of the game,” Wright said.

“It’s clear that all players need to adjust to this. I’m disappointed not to be with my teammates for the next four games but look forward to returning soon.”