West Coast Coach Adam Simpson has hit back at the concept of a “Nic rule” that forces bigger players to adapt their playing style to avoid hurting smaller players, following the controversy over a one-match ban for star Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui.
The ban for a tackle on Port Adelaide’s Karl Amon prompted suggestions the 101-kilogram Naitanui needed to assess the weight difference between him and his opponent when he makes a tackle.
West Coast Eagles tweet: Vision of Naitanui’s tackle on Amon. Nic has been offered a one-match suspension.
Simpson admitted he was left confused after the AFL tribunal upheld the Match Review Panel’s one-match suspension for the All-Australian ruckman.
Naitanui’s tackle on Amon was deemed careless, with medium impact to the head.
As well as weighing up the size difference between the players, the AFL said Naitanui should consider more reasonable courses of action, including rolling the player in the tackle or dropping to his knees to avoid driving his opponent in the ground.
But Simpson said Saturday’s incident happened in less than a second, making it impossible to make such detailed assessments.
Adam Simpson says the tackle happened too quickly for Natinui to change his playing style. (News Online Perth)
“In 0.8 of a second, Nic’s got to assess obviously where the ball is, who’s about to get the ball, his height, his weight,” the Eagles coach said.
“There’s not enough time to actually make all those decisions, and anyone who suggests that’s the way he’s got to handle it is wrong.”
Simpson said Naitanui was an exceptionally powerful player, and the Coach implied he may be being treated unfairly.
“I don’t think anyone wants him to change how he attacks the footy, and maybe it’s just a ‘Nic rule’, because he’s so powerful, and just don’t be so powerful and strong and aggressive in the act of play.”
West Coast travel east to face Greater Western Sydney this weekend.
The Eagles have been the surprise packets of 2018, sitting in second spot, and are looking for their seventh straight win.