Andrew Brayshaw should be remembered for more than the on-field incident, Neville Bruns says.
Andrew Brayshaw should be remembered for more than the on-field incident, Neville Bruns says.

Don’t let hit define your career: Bruns’ advice for Brayshaw

FORMER Geelong rover Neville Bruns has urged young Docker Andrew Brayshaw to bounce back from the punch that broke his jaw and not let the crude hit define his career.

Brayshaw was punched off the ball by West Coast's Andrew Gaff in a similar incident to one involving Bruns, who had his jaw broken in a sickening off-the-ball hit from Leigh Matthews in 1985.

Bruns said he hoped Gaff did not face criminal charges from the incident with Brayshaw, adding he had some degree of sympathy towards the West Coast midfielder.

The former Cat said it was crucial the 18-year-old Docker worked hard to be remembered for his football and not one nasty incident.

"People say, 'How often does the Matthews thing come up?' and you won't believe it, but I'd say two or three times a week someone will mention it. It never seems to stop," Bruns said.

Neville Bruns also suffered a broken jaw after an on-field hit in 1985. Picture: Mike Dugdale
Neville Bruns also suffered a broken jaw after an on-field hit in 1985. Picture: Mike Dugdale

"There's hardly a time (when you don't get it). When you meet new people, they ask the question.

"My advice to him would be to get out there and be determined to have a good career so that he can get in front of it.

"It was probably something I tried to do, but he has got a lot more football in front of him.

"It's a horrible incident, you hate to see it and you just hope they both come out the right side of it."

Bruns returned five weeks after his incident and played a further 113 games, including the 1989 and 1992 grand finals, before retiring after 223 games.

Andrew Brayshaw leaves the field. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images
Andrew Brayshaw leaves the field. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Media/Getty Images

Matthews was charged by police for his strike on Bruns and was deregistered by the VFL for four matches.

"The reason police got involved in my situation was the VFL didn't act quickly enough, they didn't know what to do. It was four or five days, from memory, (when they decided) they better do something," Bruns said.

"I'm sure the appropriate sentence will get handed down.

"I feel sorry for Gaff in a way because he doesn't seem to be that type of player. I was one of many of Matthews' victims and I'm sure (with) Gaff it's the first time he has done anything like that."

Bruns said both he and Brayshaw were very lucky to escape serious injury, highlighting the danger that comes with throwing a punch, especially when they are unexpected.

Andrew Brayshaw should be remembered for more than the on-field incident, Neville Bruns says. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Media
Andrew Brayshaw should be remembered for more than the on-field incident, Neville Bruns says. Picture: Will Russell/AFL Media

"I didn't see mine," Bruns said.

"My surgeon said to me: 'you're a very lucky man'. I said: 'how come I'm lucky?'

"He said: 'because, well he missed you by half an inch … you'd either be dead or in a coma'.

"That's what the specialist said to me and I couldn't believe it. I never thought of it that way.

"That's what happens. I think we lose sight of that a bit (the impact these hits can have).

"When I saw it in that light I thought, 'Oh s---, maybe I am lucky'. Maybe the young fella is lucky that he can live to fight another day.

"It will be tough for him."



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