Clarkson says AFL tackle crackdown changing the game

Alastair Clarkson believes the AFL’s crackdown on tackling is causing a “massive dilemma” for coaches and players and predicts teams will need to reconsider their technique at training to avoid suspension.

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett is among a swag of players in recent weeks to face the wrath of the AFL’s match review officer, with dangerous tackles under scrutiny through the opening rounds.

Merrett and Collingwood’s Taylor Adams were pinged for driving tackles in the last round, while last week Hawthorn midfielder Will Day copped a two-game ban which Clarkson felt was a tough call.

Clarkson said players could soon be prohibited from pinning their opponent’s arms in tackles altogether due to the risk of injury.

“It’s a difficult one for the game as they’ve got these issues around concussion that they obviously need to be very, very mindful of,” the North Melbourne coach said on Tuesday.

“The Will Day one, from from what I know, it was just in the process of tackling a player – if you’re tackling they’re sometimes going to lose balance and the whole idea is to actually pin their arm so they can’t dispose with the football in their hands.

“It’s nearly to the point where you say you can’t you pin the arms because they’re at risk of hitting their head on the ground so it’s an enormous dilemma, not just for the medical side of the game but for the players and coaches.”

The four-time premiership-winning coach said the Kangaroos may need to look at their tackling technique.

“We’re probably going to need to,” Clarkson said.

“I think the way players tackle is pretty safe but this has all just come about in the adjudication of the way they’re assessing these (tackles) in the last four or five weeks so we’re probably going to have to make some adjustments.”

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew and Sydney counterpart John Longmire have already told their players to refrain from taking their opponent to ground in tackles.

“It’s almost at that point, isn’t it, that if you choose to take a player to ground, if they hit their head, you’re putting yourself at risk,” Dew told Fox Footy.

“Which I think, by the way, is the right way to go, I think we need to protect the head as much as possible.

“So I think we do need to adjust our coaching, and there’s far too many (dangerous tackles) in the first five rounds.”


Melissa Woods
(Australian Associated Press)

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