‘Ugly look’: Fears dump tackles will turn AFLW players away

An AFL great says dumping tackles have become an “ugly look” for AFLW and he fears the dangerous technique could turn women away from the sport.

AFL great David King has expressed concern that sling tackles are becoming too prevalent in the AFLW and could endanger the health and wellbeing of players if not stamped out.

The 241-game Kangaroo told the Herald Sun: “What I’m seeing more and more is the tackler really putting some emphasis on dumping the player into the ground.

Concussion is a big talking point at the moment, but it’s deeper than that, I just wonder if it’s something the law makers have to keep their eye on.”

King said he saw Melbourne’s Lily Mithen being thrown into the ground a number of times during the Demons’ 13-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

“She was tackled with ferocity and it’s almost becoming part of the finishing manoeuvre in AFLW that players are getting dumped into the ground … with (the tackler) trying to really drive those shoulders into the ground,” he said.

“Sometimes you’ve got to protect the players from themselves, they’re super competitive and they want to win and they want to do the right thing by their teams, but it has crept into the game, I think, this season and it’s a bit of an ugly look for potentially attracting more young women into AFLW.

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David King is concerned by the tackling technique being used in AFLW.

“It’s certainly something that (the AFL is) ironing out of the men’s competition and I’d like to see the same approach to the women’s.”

His comments come as Carlton announced they would challenge the one-game suspension handed to reigning AFLW best and fairest midfielder Madison Prespakis for a dangerous tackle on Richmond’s Sarah Hosking.

The 20-year-old’s case will be heard by the Appeals Board on Wednesday evening.

Earlier this year, Crow Ebony Marinoff had her three-game suspension for a dangerous tackle on Giant Brid Stack in a practice game overturned by the Appeals Board.

In the opening four rounds of the 2021 season, the MRO has laid eight charges for dangerous tackles and suspended three players: Collingwood’s Aliesha Newman (Round 1) and Giants’ Tarni Evans (Round 2) for one game each, and now Prespakis.

Prespakis was also charged for a dangerous tackle in Round 2, but was offered a reprimand.

Two-time AFLW best and fairest winner Erin Phillips said duty of care was important when tackling.

“We are taught to tackle fierce and aggressively, but also with duty of care and safety for the person we’re tackling, we spend a lot of time doing that,” the Crows midfielder said.

“Obviously there’s always going to be talk about protecting … the head, and concussion now is a big topic, but for us, all we can do is keep controlling what we do and we are definitely taught to tackle with duty of care.”

Overall, King said he was a real fan of the league.

“I love the competition, it’s getting better, some of the girls coming in area so skilful and they’re driving the elevation of the whole standards across the whole competition, so it’s very exciting,” he said.

AFLW BEST-AND-FAIREST BANNED FOR ROUGH CONDUCT

Carlton’s gun midfielder Madison Prespakis has been offered a one-match suspension by the AFL’s match review officer after being charged with rough conduct for a dangerous tackle on Richmond’s Sarah Hosking.

The second-quarter tackle left Hosking in the rooms getting tested for concussion, and swung the momentum in Carlton’s favour after the Tigers had kicked the opening three goals of the game.

The MRO assessed the incident as “careless conduct, medium impact and high contact”, and classified it as a one-match sanction with an early plea.

Prespakis is the AFLW’s reigning best-and-fairest winner.

The offer of a one-game suspension comes despite Blues coach Daniel Harford saying after his side’s thrilling five-point win that his initial reaction was there wasn’t an issue with the tackle.

“I must admit we saw that in the box and thought it was a tackle with momentum and there was nothing wrong with it, so we were annoyed with the free kick,” Harford said.

“I haven’t seen it up close, but we didn’t have too many problems with how it was handled from Mads’ end.

“Mads is a bull, and she cops a fair bit every week, she actually cops more than she gives, we don’t get a lot of support for her from the fraternity.”

Harford said because Hosking returned to the field he thought Prespakis, who was reprimanded for rough conduct in Round 2, had no case to answer.

“She’s a physical player, a grunt player, and that’s part of her makeup and why she’s so good because she competes so hard,” he said.

The MRO also charged three other players: Gold Coast’s Hannah Dunn was charged with making careless contact with an umpire during the fourth quarter of the Round 4 match against Fremantle and can accept a reprimand with an early plea.

North Melbourne’s Daria Bannister was charged with engaging in rough conduct against Collingwood’s Jordyn Allen and offered a reprimand with an early plea, while Western Bulldogs Bonnie Toogood was charged with rough conduct (dangerous tackle) against Melbourne’s Lily Mithen and was also offered a reprimand with an early plea.

ROUND 5 FIXTURE: VIC CLUBS HIT THE ROAD

– Liz Walsh

After three weeks of saying put, Victoria’s AFLW teams are back on the road, with St Kilda, North Melbourne and Carlton all set to travel next weekend for the first time this season.

The Kangaroos and the Blues will head to the Apple Isle to play each other at Launceston’s University of Tasmania Stadium on Saturday night, where North Melbourne will be looking to snap its two-game losing streak.

St Kilda will head to Adelaide to face the Crows at Norwood Oval on Sunday.

Since the beginning of the season, the only Victorian team to have travelled outside of the state is Melbourne, which defeated Gold Coast by 21 points at Metricon Stadium on January 30.

After Round 1, a COVID-19 lockdown in Perth and then a further virus outbreak in Melbourne meant the AFL was forced into multiple rewrites of its fixture to avoid border closures and ensure the season could continue.

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The AFL is currently releasing its fixture on a week-by-week basis to keep on top of snap border closures.

For the past three weeks, the fixture rewrites have seen the eight Victorian clubs stay home and playing against each other, while the six interstate clubs have been flying across the country to play games.

It had been the AFL’s hope that in those three weeks, borders would reopen to allow travel between the states again.

Round 5 – the AFLW’s first Indigenous Round – will kick off on Friday night with a clash between winless teams Geelong and Richmond, in which both will be hoping to post their first victory of 2021.

GWS will also be back on the road, heading to Whitten Oval to face the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, while Brisbane will fly to Perth to face the unbeaten Fremantle, which is riding high on an 11-game winning streak stretching over two seasons.

The also-unbeaten Collingwood will take on Melbourne at Victoria Park on Sunday, before West Coast faces Gold Coast in Perth.

Crowds will be permitted at all the games unless otherwise advised. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday.

AFL Head of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said the league would continue to take the advice of governments and health officials as it worked through fixtures for upcoming rounds.

“We will continue to remain adaptable as we listen to and work closely with each stakeholder to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone in the game,” she said.

“While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, the health and welfare of our players and the community remains the priority and we remain committed to delivering a full season in a safe manner led by respective governments, public health officials and medical experts.”

AFLW ROUND 5

Friday, February 26

Geelong v Richmond, GMHBA Stadium 7.10pm AEDT

Saturday, February 27

Western Bulldogs v GWS Giants, Whitten Oval 3.10pm AEDT

Fremantle v Brisbane Lions, Fremantle Oval 2.10pm AWDT

North Melbourne v Carlton, University of Tasmania Stadium 7.10pm AEDT

Sunday, February 28

Adelaide v St Kilda, Norwood Oval 12.40pm ACDT

Collingwood v Melbourne, Victoria Park 3.10pm AEDT

West Coast v Gold Coast, Mineral Resources Park 2.10pm AWST

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