AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has defended the tribunal process but says the league is “duty bound” to consider rule changes after Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard had his rough conduct charge thrown out.

Debate continues to rage after Maynard was cleared of wrongdoing over his attempted smother that left Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw knocked out.

The league felt it had no grounds to appeal against the tribunal’s decision this week but will further assess the incident over the off-season and weigh up changes around players’ duty of care for opponents.

“Clearly the AFL thought that it was worthy of suspension and we’ve got to respect the tribunal’s decision,” outgoing AFL chief executive McLachlan told reporters on Thursday.

“But when you have an incident like that, we’re duty bound to look at actually whether there can be changes or modifications that can prevent it or continue to have our players as safe as they can be out on a field, albeit that it’s a contact sport.”

Maynard leapt into the air in an attempt to smother Brayshaw’s kick — an action the Magpies and others have defended as a “football act”.

His shoulder collided with Brayshaw’s head, leaving the Demons midfielder knocked out.

Angus Brayshaw

Angus Brayshaw was knocked out in a collision with Brayden Maynard.(Getty Images: Quinn Rooney)

Maynard was charged with rough conduct and referred directly to the tribunal by the AFL match review officer, but was ultimately cleared at Tuesday’s hearing.

Brayshaw will miss Melbourne’s semifinal against Carlton under concussion protocols, while Maynard is free to play in Collingwood’s preliminary final next week.

The incident has divided the football world and turned an intense spotlight on the league’s match review and tribunal processes.

“The AFL believed there was a case [for Maynard] to answer and made a decision … then the tribunal had a different view,” McLachlan said.

“They were quite definitive in their judgement and really left no avenue of opportunity for the AFL to appeal.

“We discussed that and accept that because that’s what this is — a system playing out.

“Our response is that if there’s no avenues to appeal then let’s actually look at the incident and see if there’s tweaks or modifications or opportunities to change the rules or modify them so that we can do our very best to protect the health and wellbeing of our players on the field.”

McLachlan, who will hand the chief executive reins to Andrew Dillon at the end of the season, would not be drawn on specifics of possible rule changes.