Former West Coast Eagles coach Mick Malthouse has torn strips off the AFL over the one-match suspension handed to Nic Naitanui for a rough tackle, branding the decision a “disgrace”.
The Eagles ruckman was rubbed out for rough conduct for what looked to be a tough but standard tackle on Port Adelaide’s Karl Amon, after it was revealed Amon suffered delayed concussion.
West Coast Eagles tweet: Vision of Naitanui’s tackle on Amon. Nic has been offered a one-match suspension.
The decision has sparked debate about the duty of care between players, with current Eagles coach Adam Simpson scathing of the concept of a “Nic rule” that would force bigger players to adapt their playing style to avoid hurting smaller players.
Malthouse, who coached West Coast to the 1992 and 1994 premierships before moving to Collingwood, said the tackle was a clear push in the back, but should not have been reported.
‘I am livid’
Malthouse took aim at the AFL on ABC Radio Melbourne on Friday.
“It’s an absolute injustice. It’s worse then that, it’s a disgrace,” Malthouse said.
“It’s in the back. It is in the back. It is not a report, because you don’t report size.
“It’s a monumental error by the AFL.
“For those in the west, you’ve been hard done by. I am livid.”
The decision by the AFL Tribunal to uphold the suspension befuddled the AFL world.
Former St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt said players could not be expected to make a weight-differential calculation on the spur of the moment, while former Saints coach Grant Thomas tweeted he was “flabbergasted by the decision.”
Call for AFL consistency
Malthouse said match review officer Michael Christian needed to find some consistency, following the decision last month to fine Hawthorn’s Ryan Burton for a bump on North Melbourne’s Shaun Higgins.
Karl Amon suffered a delayed concussion after being tackled by Naitanui (AAP: Tony McDonough)
“A year ago, [the AFL] said any bump, doesn’t matter if it’s intentional or not, if you hit someone in the head and they have a consequence, you’ll get rubbed out,” he said.
“A year later, you bump a bloke to the ground whose got the football and it’s all OK.
“I just don’t get how you can nail this bloke.”