Andrew Gaff says he is “heartbroken” following the incident which led to his lengthy suspension.
The West Coast Eagles wingman was suspended for eight matches for intentionally striking Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw in Sunday’s Western Derby.
The incident left 18-year-old Brayshaw with a broken jaw and damaged teeth and also had Gaff, who had never been cited in 175 games, visibly distressed as he sat on the bench afterwards.
Gaff, 26, had this to say during this evening's lengthy tribunal hearing: "I feel sick about how Andrew is feeling.
"I am so sorry for what has now happened to Andrew. I'm shattered, I never intended for this to happen. There was a time on the bench where you gather your thoughts a little bit more.
"I was heartbroken."
Gaff also addressed the media after the tribunal hearing:
Gaff explained that he was attempting to make contact with Brayshaw’s chest, rather than hit him in the mouth.
"I meant to get him in the chest,” Gaff added.
"I feel sick that I got him in the face. I had no intention to hit him where I hit him. I tried to do a similar hit to what I did 10 seconds earlier with my right arm.
"Once I saw him lying on the ground, I instantly felt sick.
"Mentally, I didn't want to keep playing. Physically, I was able to keep playing. But mentally, I felt shattered."
Gaff further explained the mental toll the incident had on him in the aftermath.
“The coach (Adam Simpson) talked to me and tried to keep me focused on the rest of the game, but I was rattled. It was very hard to keep playing from that point on. I've always prided myself on playing the ball,” he added.
"I'm very disappointed for how it ended. I'm just so sorry for Andrew and how he's feeling at the moment."
Gaff, who is out of contract with the Eagles at the end of the season, can again play in the AFL in early 2019.