When West Coast and Fremantle line up for Saturday’s 49th edition of the Western Derby, Andrew Gaff and Andrew Brayshaw will shake hands and wish each other luck.
What happens next is anyone’s guess.
Both the Eagles and Dockers insist they’ve moved on from Gaff’s moment of madness in round 20 last year when he threw a wild punch at Brayshaw, leaving the then 18-year-old with a broken jaw and three displaced teeth.
Gaff, who was relentlessly targeted by Brayshaw’s teammates following the stunning incident, was visibly devastated as he sat on the bench during the game.
Suspended for eight games, Gaff missed out on playing in West Coast’s premiership side and endured sleepless nights agonising over whether to seek a fresh start in Melbourne before eventually signing a contract extension.
The consequences for Brayshaw – who required facial surgery, couldn’t eat solid food for a month and was left with ongoing dental issues – were even more severe.
Both have since made successful returns. Brayshaw has contributed well in all three of the Dockers’ games this season, while Gaff was best-afield in his comeback from suspension as West Coast defeated Collingwood last week.
Gaff and Brayshaw have since made peace and shook hands before facing off in a pre-season match last month – a gesture they plan to repeat on Saturday night, although it’s unlikely to pacify aggrieved Dockers supporters.
“They’re both fine young men. One’s become a great player and the other’s trying to become a great player,” Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said this week.
“It’s all dead and buried. The only thing that counts is the first bounce and the next moment.”
Lyon noted it was possible the two Andrews would match up on each other at some point but was adamant it wouldn’t reignite any tensions.
A more pressing matter for Lyon is covering for skipper Nat Fyfe, who was unable to recover from a concussion suffered during last week’s win over St Kilda.
The addition of Fyfe to an injury list that already contains Stephen Hill and Connor Blakely tips the scales further in the Eagles’ favour – not that coach Adam Simpson is resting easy.
“We’ve both had one poor game and two good games the way I’ve seen it,” Simpson said.
“They’ve got some exceptional talent and some good mature players into the side so we’re aware of their strengths and their individual brilliance.”