West Coast coach Adam Simpson has blasted Michael Christian’s handling of the Nic Naitanui tackling controversy, labelling it as sloppy.
And Simpson can’t help but wonder whether the match review officer has come up with a “Nic rule” to stop the powerful ruckman laying hard tackles.
Naitanui was controversially handed a one-week ban for his heavy tackle on Karl Amon, which resulted in the Port player’s head hitting the turf.
West Coast’s appeal failed on Wednesday night and the ban has left the footy world divided.
Naitanui has pledged to keep playing in the same manner and Simpson doesn’t want his star player to change either.
But he has been left confused by the whole saga, especially after seeing big bumps that resulted in heavy concussions going unpunished.
Simpson felt Christian did a poor job assessing Naitanui’s bump.
“On the Monday he gets to present what happened over the weekend and justify why the charges were laid,” Simpson said.
“He just got that wrong with suggestions that both arms were pinned (and that) Amon came off and didn’t come back on. So that was just a bit sloppy.
“The follow-up from that (is he went) on every radio station and suggested it was the easiest decision he’s ever made.
“I would have thought we can make that (comment) after the tribunal, not before. So the natural justice I suppose of everything is a bit flawed there.”
Simpson said he didn’t agree with Christian’s decision.
And even worse, he’s now confused about what is and isn’t allowed in AFL ranks.
Simpson said talk that Naitanui needed to assess the height, weight and movement of his opponent within 0.8 of a second before laying a tackle was simply too hard to do in the AFL.
He said instead of tackling, Naitanui may have to resort to laying heavy bumps – something that could result in more serious injuries to his opponents.
“I’ve got an 11-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter who play footy and we want to try to protect them as much as we can,” Simpson said.
“But the question I’ve got to ask myself and talk to Nic about is what do we do going forward?
“He got the tackle wrong. That’s OK. That’s a free kick. But what does he do from now on?
“So now I’ve got to make a decision, and so does Nic … does he hip and shoulder is the question?
“Because I’m not sure there’s been any suspensions on that with incidental head knocks. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do but now I’m a little bit confused.
“Maybe it’s just a Nic rule because he’s so powerful. And (they are sending the message) don’t be so powerful and strong and aggressive in the act of play – I’m not sure.”