“I’m not going to change”: Naitanui defiant after controversial tackle suspension

By Roger Vaughan,

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77 Have your say

    West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui must serve a one-game suspension for a rough conduct charge that has sparked furious AFL debate.

    After a tribunal hearing lasting almost two hours, the three-man jury took longer than usual to find Naitanui guilty of his brutal tackle on Port Adelaide midfielder Karl Amon.

    After Wednesday evening hearing, Naitanui defiantly said the suspension would not affect the way he played.

    “I’m not going to change the way I go about things,” he said.

    “That’s what brings my aspect of playing the game … it is a physical game at the end of the day – it is a contact sport.

    “I will just have to keep playing the way I play.

    “It’s just unfortunate that Amon, who was the guy that was tackled in this incident, hit his head in the last little bit of it.”

    AFL advocate Jeff Gleeson QC argued that Naitanui, a much-bigger player than Amon, had a duty of care when he laid the tackle.

    When he cross-examined Naitanui, he asked the Eagles’ star what he weighed and what he thought Amon weighed.

    Naitanui replied 110kg for himself and about 80kg for Amon.

    But Naitanui’s counsel David Grace QC said the West Coast ruckman’s tackle was not unreasonable and Amon’s concussion might have happened because of other incidents during the game.

    “I’ve tried my best to make sure that Amon didn’t have my whole 110kg on his small frame,” Naitanui said in his evidence, via a video link with Perth.

    But Naitanui’s defence suffered a blow when veteran Port Adelaide doctor Mark Fisher said several times in his evidence that he thought the tackle from the ruckman had caused Amon to suffer delayed concussion.

    Fisher stuck to his argument under cross-examination from Grace.

    Amon is in doubt for Saturday’s Showdown clash with Adelaide because of the concussion.

    The three-man jury took 15 minutes to decide the tackle was unreasonable and impact was medium – not low – meaning the one-game ban for Naitanui.

    The hearing was delayed by a day because Grace had been unavailable.

    Amid furious debate around the future of the bump in the game, this case also sparked plenty of passionate commentary around tackling.

    Match review officer Michael Christian said on Tuesday that charging Naitanui was the easiest call he had made since taking over the role at the start of the season.

    Eagles coach Adam Simpson said the decision to charge Naitanui was a head scratcher.

    Early in the hearing, Grace asked that the tribunal jury should disregard Christian’s comments.

    His request prompted tribunal chairman David Jones to stress that the three-man jury was independent.

    Jones made the comment again to jury members Richard Loveridge, David Neitz and Shane Wakelin at the end of the hearing, before they considered their verdict.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (77)

    • Roar Rookie

      May 9th 2018 @ 9:31pm
      Mattician6x6 said | May 9th 2018 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

      Disagree with decision and am very happy nic is steadfast that he won’t change the way he plays.
      We move on and not a worry as lycett is in great form will wait till selection to see if McInnes is brought in to maintain the structure wce have used so far. Silver lining is nic gets a rest up so any soreness that maybe there will dissipate and have him cherry ripe for Richmond.

      • Roar Guru

        May 9th 2018 @ 10:20pm
        JamesH said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:20pm | ! Report

        Why?!? I love a bit of one eyed support but if Nic Nat doesn’t change the way he tackles (which is a rubbish technique for Aussie Rules, by the way) then he’s going to find himself in this situation again.

        Being stubborn and continuing to lay what the AFL deems to be dangerous tackles is pointless. The smart thing to do would be to realise that he needs to tackle in a way which protects his opponent’s head and adjust accordingly.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 9th 2018 @ 10:24pm
          Mattician6x6 said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

          And I’m sure he will change aspects but I want nic tackling hard, its what he’s always done and is a strength to his game.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 8:47am
            JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

            So… you do want him to change?

            No one is suggesting he shouldn’t play the game hard. That’s what fans what to see of every player. But he has to rethink his actual method of tackling – literally ‘the way he goes about things’.

            All he had to do was drag Amon down instead of driving him forward and everything was fine. He needs a change in technique, not his competitive attitude.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 10th 2018 @ 9:31am
              Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

              No what I’m saying is I’m sure the eagles coaching staff will speak to him behind closed doors about it. What 6×6 or James say is of little impact in this, if your that surprised that someone would make a emotional statement if they believe a ruling is unjust then that is surprising.

        • Roar Pro

          May 9th 2018 @ 10:24pm
          anon said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

          Even if people think it’s not worthy of a suspension, it’s a reckless illegal tackle that’s a free kick to the opposition.

          If Naitanui turns the player over he would have won a free kick for holding the ball.

          He’s never struck me as the sharpest tool. Some people need to learn things the hard way.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 10th 2018 @ 12:48am
            Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:48am | ! Report

            Far out mate he’s a footy player so really don’t care if you don’t consider him a intellect or a sharp tool, he doesn’t need to be, if he was a surgeon or academic maybe then it’s a requirement, when your occupation is professional sports player athletic ability is the only measure that is needing to be discussed.

          • May 11th 2018 @ 8:04am
            peter chrisp said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

            It was a bit rough a spur of the moment decision he only had 1 second to make a decision but no big deal how about a fine instead?

    • Roar Pro

      May 9th 2018 @ 9:44pm
      anon said | May 9th 2018 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

      Naitanui’s comments after the suspension was upheld were a little disturbing. Seems like he hasn’t learned his lesson.

      All these commentators keep saying this was a great tackle.

      No, it was an illegal tackle. It was a push in the back. A minimum of a free kick everyday. You’re taught to turn them over if you’re chasing them down from behind with forward momentum.

      Not only an illegal tackle, but Naitanui’s version of this tackle is particularly brutal. He uses all of his forward momentum to dump you face first in the turf. I wouldn’t want my head hitting the turf at the wrong angle. I don’t think most necks can withstand 110 kilos of force.

      So it’s a little disturbing that he’s going to continue executing illegal tackles. It’s dangerous. I’d be really concerned if I were an opponent of Naitanui.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 9th 2018 @ 10:28pm
        Mattician6x6 said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

        Your outrage is palpable so I’m sure we’ll be hearing this for at least five years or at least till nic retires.

        • Roar Pro

          May 9th 2018 @ 11:35pm
          anon said | May 9th 2018 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

          Do you agree that his tackle was an illegal tackle worthy of a free kick to the opponent?

          The fact he’s telling the public that he’ll continue to execute illegal tackles and subsequently give free kicks to the opposition is idiotic. If he just rolled the guy around he would have been rewarded with a free kick.

          My belief is he face plants the opponent because he wants to inflict harm on the person. Just my belief.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 10th 2018 @ 12:42am
            Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:42am | ! Report

            Lets try truth, he doesn’t say he’ll continue to execute illegal tackles(your choice of inflammatory language) he says he will continue to play the way he plays, if that includes walking a fine line so be it, riciuoto walked that line and won a brownlow, ablett snr, Matthews and Carey walked that line and are three of the greatest, Jonathan brown, dermie, woosha, Pickett, hall and Archer all walked that line and are celebrated.

          • Roar Pro

            May 10th 2018 @ 1:32am
            anon said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:32am | ! Report

            He said he’s going to continue executing the same tackle he executed on the weekend. He was adamant that he won’t do anything differently.

            Which means everytime he’s given the opportunity to run someone down from behind he’s going to illegally face plant them into the turf with a push in the back tackle.

            Really stupid. All he has to do is turn them over and he wins a free kick.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 10:27am
              Floreat Pica said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

              I agree that had he better rolled Amon, Naitanui may have been awarded a free kick (assuming such a tackle would not have carried the ball over the very nearby line), but I disagree adamently that Naitanui intended to run Amon down from behind illegally. Instead that Naitanui had committed himself to a fair and legal tackle intending to take Amon in the side, with the tackle also landing him on his side- and thereby laying a near-ideal tackle.

              Naitanui had already put his momentum into the tackle when Amon was facing goal-wards to receve the ball (being of a similar weight to Naitanui myself albeit far less powerful, I know how hard it would be to arrest such inertia once committed, and its clear that Naitanui’s posture was fully committed to the tackle before Amon received the ball).

              Amon elected (and smaller players are coached to do so) to not take the impact it the direction he was facing and be caught in the side- but instead he turned away to take it in the back. If you watch the footage, its clear he knew Naitanui was coming and shifted his direction away from Naitanui towards the boundary to do so.

              It seems ridiculous to say, but have we/the tribunal overlooked Amon’s own duty of care to himself? I’m certainly not saying Amon took a dive here- this was a very forceful (but intended as legal) tackle that he clearly did not initiate- but I think the coaching of players to draw free kicks by turning their back to an oncoming tackle is the elephant-in-the-room that hasn’t yet been discussed.

              • Roar Pro

                May 10th 2018 @ 1:42pm
                anon said | May 10th 2018 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

                Instead that Naitanui had committed himself to a fair and legal tackle intending to take Amon in the side, with the tackle also landing him on his side- and thereby laying a near-ideal tackle.

                But he didn’t do that, and has a history of not doing that.

                Therefore he needs to adjust his technique.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 7:07pm
                jeznez said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

                Amon pulls a full 180 in the half a second before Naitanui hits him. When Naitanui is inside 5m of him and lowering himself for the hit Amon is about to catch the ball and is facing him.

                So you catch the ball, turn your back on a player that is already committed and the other bloke gets suspended?

                I’m a rugby man and freely admit I don’t know the rules of the code but gee that seems stiff.

    • May 9th 2018 @ 10:04pm
      Simon G said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:04pm | ! Report

      Why the questions about how much they both weigh? Does a bigger body now have to go easy into a tackle every time they are tackling a smaller player? If he performed the exact same tackle on someone his own weight or heavier would’ve it changed the judicary’s mind?

      • Roar Rookie

        May 9th 2018 @ 10:10pm
        Mattician6x6 said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

        That for me was weird, sandilands escaped sanction versus gcs for his hip and shoulder which collected a guy in the head because of his height.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 10:54am
        Scott said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        That’s the stupidest part of the whole thing. How could they possibly say that. Is there a sport in the entire world where you have to take it easy on your opponent because he’s smaller?

    • May 9th 2018 @ 10:33pm
      Damo said | May 9th 2018 @ 10:33pm | ! Report

      The AFLs argument boiled down to ‘you were bigger therefore you should be more careful’ and it held up. In an era where players are all homogenised into midfielders it was a disturbing argument.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 8:13am
        Razzar said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:13am | ! Report

        The weight disparity argument is ridiculous. It’s Not in the rules. Nic and Amon were both running in the same direction at speed, so it’s very hard for a tackling Nic to roll his body to complete the tackle. AFL got this wrong, a fine would have sufficed.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 10:34am
        Floreat Pica said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        I agree, such a precedent flies against the spirit of the game that allows diverse body shapes to maximise their own strengths to be equally involved in the game. Would we ask Charlie Cameron to ‘go easy’ on slower runners?

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 10:42am
          Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Does Cameron’s running speed physically injure other players? Nope and that is the difference.

          • May 10th 2018 @ 11:44am
            Floreat Pica said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

            It could if he tackled them awkwardly- say if he ran someone down from behind and they rolled an ankle in the process- would we then be asking him to show more duty of care?

            • Roar Guru

              May 10th 2018 @ 11:48am
              Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

              The issue would be the tackle not the speed.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 10:56am
        Scott said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

        I totally agree. The weight thing is absurd and I don’t know of any other time that has been brought up in a sport

    • May 9th 2018 @ 11:30pm
      Doctor Rotcod said | May 9th 2018 @ 11:30pm | ! Report

      There’s a lot of faux-outrage here. Sure, the tackle was in the back,mostly.Sure, he could have tried harder to turn Amon. Sure,he shouldn’t have landed on him in such a way that it made his head bounce up and down.
      But ,Naitanui wasn’t about to let Amon get away.Plenty of players,every week,tackle illegally,get pinged,get on with it.
      He’s not a biometrician,calculating angles,forces,action and reaction.
      He’s a big player who tackles hard. I’ve watched him since his Swan Districts days. He chases like a leopard and brings down his prey. Do his critics want him to hold his opponents by the hand and ask them politely for the ball?
      He , for all of those who reckon that he’s unco or that his tackles are substandard and not to AFL level, has only a reprimand on his record – from 2011.That’s it. For a front on bump on Taylor Hunt.
      He appears to be awkward,but when you’re 10cm taller and 20 kg heavier than most of your direct opponents, who aren’t just ruckmen but defenders and midfielders as far as Nic is concerned,it’s going to be messy.

      If the player in front braces his leg,as Amon does,which prevented Nic from turning him or doesn’t put a non-pinned arm out to protect himself,as Amon fails to do and therefore travels forward further in the tackle than someone bracing themselves would have otherwise done, your head is at the end of a sine wave of movement (your own and the tackler’s momentum) and you’ll headbutt the ground.Not Naitanui’s fault.Amon’s head striking the ground was unfortunate but not malicious or deliberate
      Messy tackle.In the back.Free kick. Not a suspension
      If a smaller bloke brings a big bloke from behind and pushes him in the back in the process,is he expected to turn him in the tackle? Big player tackles smaller player,smaller player suffers.Smaller players avoid this problem by being faster than bigger players. Mostly

      • May 10th 2018 @ 5:40am
        Slane said | May 10th 2018 @ 5:40am | ! Report

        Most of the outrage seems to be coming from the camp who think Nic Nat should have got off.
        Nobody is saying Nic’s tackle was dirty or deliberate or sinister in any way. They are saying it was reckless. I think it’s pretty hard to argue that such an awkward looking tackle that drove a players face into the ground whilst you simultaneously land in his back isn’t a reckless tackle.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 8:52am
          JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:52am | ! Report

          Well said.

          I enjoy watching Naitanui play (Bombers fan here) and I want him to keep tackling ferociously. He just needs to put a bit more thought into how he does it.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 10th 2018 @ 9:41am
          Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          Its 50/50 atm, the way those who believe the suspension should of stood are jumping on his response immediately after ruling was handed down is close to hysteria. If we look at the previous hearing Hawkins had time to devise a circumspect statement as it was roundly accepted he would get a week, in last nights case opinion was divided and defiance is common if a person believes a decision was unjust.
          I’m sure given time his answer would be more circumspect, as wce supporter I don’t want him to change but the ruling does show he will need to clean up aspects in technique and I would say 100% wce will be dealing with that in a pvt manner.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 9:51am
            Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            What was circumspect about Hawkins statement? The AFL threatened to ask the tribunal for a 2 game suspension so the Cats and Hawkins made a deal to plea guilty for 1 week. Much like last year when the Cats felt the price to appeal (an extra week) was too much, this new system worked out exactly the same – the risk was not worth it.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 10th 2018 @ 9:55am
              Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

              His statement was circumspect, I’m not saying that ruling was right or wrong I’m saying what Hawkins said came across as devised rather than emotive as it was generally accepted he was going to get a week for it.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:11am
                AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

                Well, duh. I think you’ll find that most of these statements – and this’ll sound extremely cynical – are pretty ‘devised’. I mean, teams have good media and legal teams, and when you’re guilty of something an apology of any kind will be almost a prerequisite.

                That’s what’s makes Natanui’s provocative statement intriguing. I have no clue of the inner workings of the Eagles’, but I’m sure they’d have been a few winces on some of the staff there when hearing that he ‘won’t change’.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:27am
                Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

                I’m pretty much all over that fact, whether its sport or business i have become quite aware ppl will devise a response if a unfavorable verdict is expected.
                Was it provocative or defiant? I’d say defiant and that stems from the the immediate nature of his comment, ask him that question today and he’ll probably have a beige response.
                Ppl want it both ways, they want less carbon copy responses from afl coaches and players but when they get them they bluster with ” I can’t believe he said that, get him some media training “

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:46am
                Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

                The difference is Hawkins statement was prepared, and obviously combed over and approved by media relations and lawyers. Hawkins had time, he knew the deal for a hours if not an entire day. NicNat didn’t get that, he response was ‘live’ and off the cuff. That’s why it felt more ‘real’ … because it was. Prepared statements are never going to sound ‘real’.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 10th 2018 @ 10:50am
                Mattician6x6 said | May 10th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

                Exactly what I was saying. We see it in all sports, its like that baseball player who punched himself, I’m sure his response in life is different but in a spur of the moment act of frustration he looked a bit of a goose.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2018 @ 12:03pm
                AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

                Isn’t that what I said, Cat?

    • Roar Guru

      May 9th 2018 @ 11:34pm
      Dalgety Carrington said | May 9th 2018 @ 11:34pm | ! Report

      If he keeps on giving free kicks away and keeps on getting reported, eventually he just might think a change in his approach is worthwhile. Eventually.

      • May 10th 2018 @ 5:20am
        Lroy said | May 10th 2018 @ 5:20am | ! Report

        ”AFL advocate Jeff Gleeson QC argued that Naitanui, a much-bigger player than Amon, had a duty of care when he laid the tackle.”

        Do players sign a form saying they wont tackle players smaller than them??

        IF that argument was real then the AFL would ban tackling completely as it is the AFL who has a duty of care to players…

        Players dont have a duty of care to each other as long as they are broadly adhering to the rules. Getting hurt is part of the game, players assume that risk when they step onto the field.

        Clearly, if you king hit someone behind play then youve gone outside the bounds of normal behaviour.

        Let me guess, grand final week Richmond vs West Coast Eagles and Michael Christian suspends Naitanui because he broke a guys fingernail. Seriously, thats how this will play out..the big guy will get done grand final week.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 6:34am
          gameofmarks said | May 10th 2018 @ 6:34am | ! Report

          I think the old English Law doctrine of Volenti non fit injuria trumps Duty of Care every day and twice on Sundays.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 8:55am
            JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

            That would only mean Amon can’t bring a claim against Nic Nat in negligence. Nothing to do with the AFL’s application of their rules.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 7:33am
          Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

          I get you are full of faux outrage right now, but there is a difference between duty of care and not being allowed to tackle a bloke.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 8:21am
            Dalgety Carrington said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

            At best it was a sloppy tackle, poorly executed. Whatever his intentions, the net result was Amon was pile driven head first into the turf. Simple lesson, be a little more careful, improve your tackling skills.

            Naitanui had other options. He was 40% bigger than the other bloke, with that size and strength differential let’s not pretend he couldn’t have easily nailed a vigorous tackle without pile driving Amon into that Burswood road.

        • Roar Guru

          May 10th 2018 @ 9:11am
          JamesH said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          @Lroy the match review grading is ‘careless’. That is literally ‘lack of care’. The rules therefore require players to show a certain level of care in the way they make contact.

          People really need to get used to the notion that the the head is sacrosanct. If you drive or sling a player’s head into the turf in a tackle, or collect their head when you bump them, you are going to be in hot water.

          This position is a direct consequence of medical science’s understanding of the serious and long-lasting damage caused by repeat concussions. The game is never going back to the good ol’ days, no matter how much people might yearn for it.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 9:17am
            Cat said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

            … or collect their head when you bump them …

            Just to clarify, if you bump their head directly.

            An accidental head clash as a result of a legal bump is not going to be punished. Accidents do happen.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2018 @ 9:19am
            AdelaideDocker said | May 10th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            Great comment.

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