Liam Stocker tackles Jamie Elliott during the round five St Kilda and Collingwood clash on April 16, 2023 at Adelaide Oval. Picture: AFL Photos

CONFUSED players have called on the AFL to provide greater clarification around dangerous tackle rules leading into the biggest game of the home-and-away season.

About 90,000 fans are expected to attend the Anzac Day blockbuster that pits second-placed Essendon against third-placed Collingwood at the MCG.

Both sides will be missing key players after Bombers skipper Zach Merrett and Magpies vice-captain Taylor Adams were handed one-match suspensions at the tribunal for rough conduct.

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Merrett and Adams were both charged over tackles that were considered careless conduct, medium impact and high contact, and unsuccessfully challenged the impact gradings.


Greater Western Sydney midfielder Tom Green this week accepted a one-match ban for a similar incident.

The latest batch of suspensions have come amid an AFL crackdown on head contact and an increased focus on the effects of concussion in world sport.


Essendon vice-captain Andrew McGrath said there was still confusion within the playing group about what actions were permitted in tackles.

"All the players would love clarification," McGrath told reporters on Wednesday.

"We play a game that's so random and chaotic at times and you're not exactly sure what's allowed and what's not allowed.


"There's been a lot of cases in the last few weeks of players getting done for similar incidents, so it would be great to get a little bit of clarification.

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"As the cases are going, we're sort of figuring out what's fair and not fair and what's being permitted."

Earlier in the season Richmond defender Nathan Broad was hit with a four-match suspension for his sling tackle on Adelaide's Patrick Parnell.


Hawthorn midfielder Will Day (two matches) and Geelong forward Gary Rohan (one match) were also suspended over dangerous tackles this month.

Collingwood captain Darcy Moore said players were taking note of the Match Review Officer's assessment of incidents, as well as tribunal decisions, but admitted behavioural change would take time.

"You look back at footage of the game from five years ago and there are things that happen that are far less common now than back then," Moore said.

"Maybe we're caught in one of those periods where a sling tackle is slowly being phased out of the game.

"There's certainly no one answer to it, but I think we're just trying to find the best way to strike the balance between being a physical game that's tough to play but also giving due attention to players getting concussions and the ramifications of that."