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SLING SHOT

How to tame this tackle

- REECE HOMFRAY

FOOTY doctor Peter Larkins believes players would welcome a specific rule change penalising the sling tackle in games because it would protect the head and provide clarity on what they’re allowed to do.

Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs was yesterday hit with a two-game ban for his tackle on Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray at the MCG on Saturday, which at the time didn’t warrant a free kick by the umpire.

Gray was momentaril­y knocked out and taken from the ground on a stretcher and the umpire restarted play with a ball-up.

But Gibbs was yesterday of- fered a two-game ban for rough conduct over the incident.

Dr Larkins has urged the AFL to consider a rule change specifical­ly for sling tackles to educate and protect players.

“I’m not picking on Bryce because he didn’t do anything illegal, but the point is we need to have an awareness that that is prone to causing the Robbie Gray incident,” Dr Larkins told The Advertiser.

“The message to the players has to be ‘don’t do it’ and if the only way to get the message to them is to make it a rule, then I guess that’s going to happen.

“We’re looking to see how to make the game safer and there’s no doubt if you get slung in that tackle when your arms are pinned then the likelihood of your head hitting the ground first is obviously very high and we’re looking at a head injury or concussion.

“The issue is if players are allowed to do it, they will continue to do it, and we think medically it ought to be looked at.”

Dr Larkins says penalising a sling tackle with a free kick would fall in line with other rule changes in recent years which protect the head.

“Everyone knows if you’re running towards me with your head over the ball, I’m not allowed to turn side-on and no matter how good my hip-andshoulde­r technique is I’m not allowed to (bump) you in the head,” Dr Larkins said.

“So it’s the same with the sling tackle. If the players know they’re not allowed to do it they won’t do it.

“I guess we’ve had enough examples over the last couple of years of players who have ended up being injured when that sort of tackle is applied.

“It would have to be a buyin from the players to understand that it’s a dangerous tackle to apply and therefore it changes player behaviour.”

Dr Larkins saw the Gibbs tackle from the boundary line at the MCG at the weekend.

“I had a perfect view of it and I thought (it) was absolutely perfect for the first part because he followed Robbie into the contest, predicted that Robbie would get the ball and absolutely pinned him from behind,” he said.

Dr Larkins says an increase in shoulder injuries suggests tackling in AFL footy has become more ferocious.

“That’s because of the tackling pressure and intensity over the last couple of seasons,” he said.

AFL football operations boss Mark Evans told Melbourne radio on Sunday that the laws of the game committee had discussed how tackling a player whose arms are pinned is adjudicate­d and that investigat­ion would be ongoing. reece.homfray@news.com.au

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 ??  ?? RULE CHANGE: The tackle from Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs which felled Port’s Robbie Gray is being examined by the laws of the game committee.
RULE CHANGE: The tackle from Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs which felled Port’s Robbie Gray is being examined by the laws of the game committee.

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