MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 14: Ben Stratton and his Hawks team mates look dejected after losing the round 13 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Hawthorn Hawks at Marvel Stadium on June 14, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

It has been a bad couple of weeks for Hawthorn skipper Ben Stratton.

Starting with the niggling of Charlie Cameron in his side’s loss to Brisbane and finishing by being sent to the tribunal following the loss to Essendon, the defender is the AFL world’s current subject of criticism.

His tactics and actions have shown a lack of discipline and a failure in leadership which should result in fines, a suspension and potentially a temporary break from the captaincy.

Stratton has left his opponents with no way to retaliate and no escape from his antics, the result of which is the bruises seen on Orazio Fantasia’s arms.

The AFL has likely made the sensible call to send Stratton straight to the tribunal now to prevent someone from eventually reacting to him in the future.

The precedent has been set when it comes to pinching, with Ryan Crowley receiving a $1,200 fine for pinching Brent Harvey back in 2013, but whether the tribunal follows that trend or sends a message at Stratton’s expense with a bigger punishment remains to be seen.

The pinching of an opponent, particularly off the ball, is a poor look regardless of whether you think it’s acceptable or not.

There are ways to irritate opponents without the need to physically harm them and while the pinching is a matter that can be discussed for ages, the stomping on Shaun McKernan is an issue that can not be debated.

Simply put, there is no place for that in the AFL or any sport for that matter.

A stomp that connects in a certain place has the potential to do serious damage and it would be nothing short of shameful if the tribunal didn’t suspend Stratton for it, if for no other reason than to deter the rest of the league from such action.

Hopefully, if given the time off, Stratton will gain some perspective which will allow him to make the necessary changes to his game and result in him becoming the leader the Hawks need him to be.

However, as it stands right now, Stratton’s actions are not those of a leader and certainly not those of the captain of a footy club, especially not one that holds itself to the high standards that Hawthorn does.

The league and Hawthorn fans alike will be hoping that this trip to the tribunal will be the wake-up call Stratton needs.