SHOULD the 'Selwood shrug' be rewarded with a free kick?

On Friday morning, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson's call for players to be discouraged from breaking tackles by shrugging, raising their arms or dropping their knees.

In Clarkson's view, players are incentivised to put themselves in danger by winning free kicks for high contact.

ARE WE FAIR DINKUM? Clarko says stop rewarding the shrug 

In the wake of Clarkson's comments, we asked for your views.

Here we present a selection of your responses.

Players are penalised for a tackle that starts out legal

Completely agree with Clarko. It's a tactic that players will naturally gravitate towards because you've got a good chance of a) drawing a free or b) slipping under the tackle. Players are currently being penalised for a tackle that starts out legal but is made to be illegal by the player being tackled, eg Polec tackling Shuey. It should now be seen as prior opportunity and the tackler should be rewarded with a free kick.

- James Preece, Cumberland Park SA

Just call 'play on'

I'm a Geelong supporter so I tend to be biased, but when it comes to this issue, I understand the furore that surrounds it. While Selwood gets a lot of free kicks for this particular rule, he also uses it as a tactic to break free of a tackle due to his strength through his core. Players such as James Sicily, Luke Shuey and Lindsay Thomas have used this as a measure to get a free kick and generally aren't hard at the contest like Selwood is. It seems like the logical option is to just call 'play on', which allows players to continue to break out of tackles, but also penalises those playing for free kicks.

- Nick O'Connor, Williamstown Vic

Take the free kick away

Remove the incentive of a free kick and I think you'd see players explore other ways of avoiding tackles. If they do choose to duck under a tackle it's then a legitimate attempt to avoid getting caught, as opposed to trying to draw a free.

- Tom Kerrigan, Melbourne Vic

Drawing a free kick is no different than staging

The AFL continue to address head related injuries and in doing so have reduced concussion, which is great. To allow a player to intentionally risk themselves for a reward is a contradiction of the existing process and needs to be stopped. Drawing a head-high free kick is no different than staging, except that it can cause short/long term brain injuries.

- Justin Redfern, Epping Vic

Selwood is entitled to shrug

It is the responsibility of the tackler to tackle correctly and the right of the person being tackled to try to break the tackle. Selwood does not duck his head, which puts the player at risk of serious injury - he shrugs to free himself to get rid of the ball, as he is entitled to. This is a complete overreaction by Clarkson, because if Selwood is tackled high he should be protected like any other player.

- Ron Sommerfeld, Bendigo Vic

It is a skill to draw free kicks

If the player tackling is tackling in a way that can be turned into a free kick against, the tackler needs to improve their technique. It is a skill to draw free kicks just as much as it is a skill to catch someone holding the ball.

- Dylan Hayes, Hobart Tas

Tacklers should be aiming at the hips

In most cases, the player is not trying to win a free kick, he is just trying to evade the tackle. There is too much focus on the player being tackled and not enough criticism of the tackler's technique. For example, Ryan Burton's arms were in a high position as he approached Joel Selwood – before he made any contact. Tacklers should be aiming at players' hips, not their upper arms.

- David Rhodes, Highton Vic

We need to protect players, not blame them

I saw plenty of high tackles not being paid as frees in AFL games last week. We need to keep protecting players from high or rough tackles, not blaming them for being the recipients of tackles that endanger them. Too many high tackles are already being missed. We shouldn't be making it harder for umpires to protect players.      

- Julie Dewar, Dunsborough WA 

Don't reward a player for intentionally endangering their own safety

If high contact is dangerous enough to warrant a free kick, then it's dangerous enough for the AFL to remove the incentive to receive high contact. That means not rewarding a player whose deliberate actions caused them to get hit high. An AFL football field is a workplace. And everyone in a workplace is responsible for workplace health and safety, including in this case both the tackler and the person being tackled. Penalise careless high tackles, but don't reward a player for intentionally endangering their own safety.

- Tom Stephens, Townsville Qld

The concussion argument is redundant

The ability that Selwood and others have to evade a tackle by lifting the arm and shrugging a tackle is a developed skill and a great part of our game. The fact that Selwood has had a lot of concussions is redundant to the concussion argument, as none of his concussions, or any concussions from memory, have been due to a high-arm tackle being shrugged higher. Concussions come from high impact, and usually in heavy contested situations where two or more players are trying to win a ball. Or a blatantly illegal contact such as a punch or elbow.

- Dion Plumb, Breakwater Vic

Selwood doesn't get concussed by the shoulder shrug

How many concussions are coming from shrugging the shoulders? Can't say there would be any! Deliberately ducking and dropping your head to get a head-high tackle and a possible free kick needs to go, but Joel Selwood doesn't get concussed by the shoulder shrug. It's his attack on the ball that will cause this for him. Wake up, Clarko ...

- Brendan Delaney, Wollongong, NSW 

Shruggers must be duckers

Shrugging shoulders to evade a tackle is a legitimate football move. Not ducking one's head during the shrug in order to completely avoid the tackle is not. Current practice involves attempting to move tacklers' arms from shoulder to head. This practice places players in harm's way post-career due to repeated head knocks, as seen in the NFL.

- Julian Staffieri, Alphington Vic 

The onus is with the tackler

The responsibility is on the tackler. You can't pay a free kick for shrugging. Besides, even if you didn't pay the free kick it is still effective in getting rid of the tackle. 80 per cent of the time Selwood would break free anyway.

- Luke Hart, Belmont Vic