He’s a nice guy, no doubt. He’ll more often than not be sure to go and check you’re OK after he’s taken you out too.
But make no mistake Trent Cotchin is brutal on the footy field – and on Friday night Zak Jones became the latest victim of the Richmond skipper’s at-times dangerous approach to the opposition.
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In a controversy-filled game that saw regular offender Tom Lynch crack Ben Paton in the head with an elbow and kneel on the neck of Dougal Howard, it was Cotchin that delivered the most dramatic blow.
It came early in the second quarter after Saints player Jack Billings had been awarded a free kick about 45m from goal.
As the whistle was blown Jones picked up the footy and Cotchin caught him around the neck with his left hand.
Call us cynical but it appeared as though Cotchin – with the free kick to Billings already awarded – felt he had nothing to lose.
What followed appeared to be a split-second decision to get his money’s worth by aggressively swinging Jones around and burying him in the turf.
Richmond has made physicality part of its brand during a four-year run of preliminary final finishes or better and this was its captain sending a message.
But at what price?
Some viewers were calling for the AFL match review panel to take action after the peril Jones found himself in.
“This really looked dangerous,” comedian and footy fanatic Dave Hughes tweeted. “The AFL can’t ignore it.”
“Surely that earns an exit from the finals series,” added Australian cricketer Brad Hogg. “His mate at full forward has had enough chances as well.”
Cotchin will like his chances of escaping with a reprimand but what angered footy fans further was St Kilda wasn’t even given a 50m penalty, which would have made the ensuing shot at goal a gimme.
“Trent Cotchin really does have his own set of rules,” tweeted journalist Adam Curley.
Lynch also drew rage from viewers after the incidents involving Paton and Howard.
Actor and diehard Saints fan Eric Bana was filthy – and still upset about Ben Long being rubbed out of the game for a hit on Bulldog Jack Macrae last week – after Lynch’s elbow forced Paton from the ground.
“So Tom Lynch just spilt open Ben Patton with an elbow, Patton had to leave the ground, and not one Ch7 commentator mentions it? Oh wait, his name isn’t Ben Long,” Bana tweeted.
While that incident came in a marking contest, it was Lynch’s behind the play scuffle with Howard which drew the most attention.
Lynch started wrestling with Howard on the turf before appearing to press his left knee into the defender’s neck as he returned to his feet.
While it was another bad look in a match that had plenty provided by Richmond players, the reality is Lynch’s knee, and his elbow, and Cotchin’s tackle will be highly unlikely to earn more than a fine this week.
Expect fans to blow up then, too.