THE TACTICS used to draw high free kicks by the likes of Geelong captain Joel Selwood need to be stamped out of the game to avoid concussion issues plaguing the game, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says.
Selwood won a free kick against Ryan Burton in the first quarter of the Easter Monday thriller, which the Hawks won by a point, by shrugging his right shoulder and forcing the tackle high.
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While acknowledging it was a problem around the competition, Clarkson said on Friday players were incentivised to put themselves in danger.
"If we're actually fair dinkum about head injuries, then we shouldn't be providing extra protection for someone who contributes to the high contact," Clarkson said.
"All that's doing for me is encouraging more and more players to use that tactic.
"Joel's had them himself. He's going to keep playing like a bull in that sort of manner whilst he can continue to get those sorts of free kicks. He's had 10 concussions in his career, or thereabouts.
"The concern isn't for him right now. The concern is, for him and the game, in 10, 15, 20 years' time, and if we want to do something about concussion, we should be policing the game in a manner that dropping the knees, shrugging the shoulders, raising the arm, ducking the head, all those sorts of things, we could get out of the game really, really quickly if we were fair dinkum about it.
"As we're seeing in the (United) States, concussion is a significant issue. At the moment, we're thinking that we're protecting the player by paying a high free kick every time he drops his drops his knees or shrugs his shoulders. In actual fact, we're not doing the game any good by doing that, or the player, to be fair."
Clarkson was referring to the concussion problems plaguing the NFL and the ongoing effects players have experienced, even after retirement.
He conceded there were those among his own side who draw free kicks in that manner, citing Paul Puopolo and James Sicily.
"We've spoken about Joel, which is a little bit unfair in a sense, because many players do it, and 'Poppy's' probably a ripper for us. It's the way they play the game," Clarkson said.
"Poppy's a little bit different because he's a little bit shorter again. It's still a natural sort of movement for his to shrug the shoulder and get low and he gets a lot of free kicks.
"We were talking about James Sicily before. We've got players in our side (that do it), and that's what I'm saying. This isn't a Joel Selwood rule, this is a game rule. It's about what's best for the game.
"It will impact on Paul Puopolo and James Sicily, just like it will Joel Selwood, if it was to be changed."
The four-time premiership coach has a simple solution.
"It would probably just play on. I think it would be too harsh a penalty to go the full other way and penalise the player for it," Clarkson said.
"I just feel like concussion is going to be a significant issue in the future unless we do something about this rule."