Nat Fyfe. Picture: Getty Images/The West Australian.
Nat Fyfe. Picture: Getty Images/The West Australian.

A behind-the-scenes push to overturn Nat Fyfe's ineligibility for this year's Brownlow Medal has failed after the Fremantle star's management group exhausted all avenues to allow him to win the league's highest individual accolade.

The AFL Players' Association was approached by Stride Sports Management last month to help explore any grounds on which Fyfe's ineligibility could be challenged.

Fyfe is a raging favourite to top next month's Brownlow count on the back of an outstanding season in which he has averaged 27 disposals and kicked 17 goals.

However, the 22-year-old cannot win after being banned for two matches for a bump which caused an accidental head clash with Gold Coast's Michael Rischitelli in round two.

Fyfe's management has been increasingly frustrated by what it sees as the inconsistency of the match review panel in assessing similar incidents this season.

Sydney star Lance Franklin was not cited over a high bump in round 12, while Melbourne's Jack Viney had a two-game ban overturned by the AFL appeals board in May.

A high blow from Brisbane's Daniel Merrett last Sunday that broke Cameron Pedersen's nose and required surgery was also cleared by the panel.

Fyfe was found guilty under a new ruling introduced over the off-season to protect the head.

Fremantle chose not to chall-enge the offer of a two-game ban and have not been involved in the secret push.

_The Weekend West _understands the lack of advice given to clubs over the updated rule regarding head clashes caused by bumps, as well as the rule's absence from the official AFL Laws of the Game DVD, were investigated as potential grounds to have Fyfe's Brownlow eligibility restored.

The AFLPA argued the merits of the case with the league but AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said rules would never change mid-year.

A legal challenge if Fyfe tops Brownlow voting has never been considered.

North Melbourne premiership player Corey McKernan and former Western Bulldogs champion Chris Grant are the only two previous ineligible winners.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan yesterday killed off any faint hope of the Fyfe decision being overturned.

"It's hard for me to accept that a guy is rubbed out for essentially an accident as he went to bump," McLachlan told ABC Radio.

"But I think there's an acceptance that we need to make the head sacrosanct and that if you choose to bump, and you make contact with the head, you're in trouble."

The possibility of changes to the MRP that would mean fines replacing suspensions for lower-level offences has been floated.

Stride Management is believed to at least be happy that Fyfe's case might lead to changes to the Brownlow ineligibility criteria.

Under the existing system, players found guilty of an offence that carries more than 100 points before their past record is considered are ruled ineligible.

"It's hard for me to accept that a guy is rubbed out for essentially an accident …" " AFL chief executive *Gillon McLachlan *


The West Australian

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