‘It’s not about him’: Gaff cops it
HE provided the moment that divided the footy world like no other in season 2018 - and West Coast star Andrew Gaff again split opinion on grand final day.
Suspended for eight games for a horror hit on Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw in round 20, Gaff struggled to contain his emotions as he watched the Eagles claim the premiership against Collingwood on Saturday.
He was embraced by teammates and coach Adam Simpson as the full consequences of one moment of madness hit home.
"It would be extremely tough," Eagles midfielder Elliot Yeo told the Herald Sun.
"I was crying with Gaffy after the final siren and we had all the boys together and I was crying with them all. There are some really good stories and there is some heartbreak too."
"It's really, really hard on that man, I feel like crying myself," AFL legend Wayne Carey said in commentary for Channel 7.
"It doesn't matter how many of his teammates get around him, it won't take away that hurt."
"He's a shell of a man right now," commentator Hamish McLachlan added. "One act that he will regret for the rest of his life was so out of character."
Gaff wasn't alone in his grand final heartbreak. Fellow senior Eagles Eric Mackenzie, Brad Sheppard and Nic Naitanui also watched from the sidelines.
"Eric Mackenzie and obviously Shep (Brad Sheppard) and Nic (Naitanui) have been really good in this situation," Gaff told the Herald Sun.
"At least we've got each other and hopefully we get our chance in the next few years."
But some weren't ready to forgive Gaff for what they perceived as a self-inflicted blow.
Spare a thought for Andrew Gaff.— Sam McClure (@sam_mcclure) September 29, 2018
Has been there for all of the hard times, had 34 disposals when his team was smashed in 2015 GF and misses out on the ultimate prize for one moment of madness. #AFLGF
The 26-year-old is fielding offers to join rival Victorian clubs next year but Simpson is uncertain of his star wingman's intentions.
"This is not the time to talk about it," Simpson said after hugging Gaff in the rooms post-match.
"But you can only imagine how Eric MacKenzie, Brad Sheppard, Nic Naitanui and Andrew Gaff are feeling."
Naitanui, MacKenzie and Sheppard were all injured and unavailable for the grand final.
"Gaffy will be a bit different because it was self-inflicted and he needs to own that," Simpson said.
"But from the minute that happened we have obviously recognised he did the wrong thing, but tried to give him as much support as we can. That won't change. No matter what he does, he is one of us."
Gaff has missed six games and will serve the remaining two matches of the ban at the start of next season.
- with AAP