AFL News: ‘Only option he’s got’ – Cornes weighs in on Saint’s dangerous tackle, big-money Blue ‘not hard enough’


Kane Cornes has rubbished suggestions Port Adelaide defender Aliir Aliir was partly responsible for the dangerous tackle from St Kilda’s Jack Higgins that left him concussed, and saw the Saint hit with a three-match suspension.

Debate has erupted following the incident on Friday night, with Aliir unable to take any further part in the match after half time and ruled out of the Power’s Showdown clash with Adelaide on Thursday night under the AFL’s concussion protocols.

Match Review Officer Michael Christian deemed Higgins’ tackle careless conduct with severe impact and high contact, triggering the three-match ban – the highest suspension Christian has the power to give.

Speaking on Fox Footy, however, former great Jordan Lewis said he felt sorry for Higgins, claiming Aliir ‘contributes 50 per cent’ to the incident by attempting to kick the ball.

Jack Higgins has been handed a three-match suspension for this tackle on Aliir Aliir.

Full details:

— AFL (@AFL) April 27, 2024

“I feel for Higgins – if Aliir Aliir understands that he’s being tackled and doesn’t then try to kick the ball, then there’s probably no case to answer for,” Lewis said on Friday night.

“I think it’s 50/50 – I think Aliir contributes 50 per cent of that force by going to the ground trying to dispose the ball.”

However, Cornes said on SEN Breakfast Lewis was entirely wrong.

“Pull your socks up to anyone who is critical of Aliir for trying to kick the ball,” Cornes said.

“The rules state if you’ve had prior, if you get tackled, you are required to make an effort to dispose of the ball – then we’re sitting here being critical of Aliir for trying to kick the ball.

“He’s [Higgins] got one arm, so he can’t handball it; his only option, in the rules, is to kick the ball. How could you be critical of Aliir and place any blame on him for trying to kick the ball?”

The Saints have confirmed they will challenge Higgins’ suspension at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night.

Aliir Aliir is tackled by Jack Higgins. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

‘Not hard enough’: Big-money Blue slammed for poor decisions

Carlton defender Zac Williams’ spot in the Blues’ team has come under question, after a series of poor efforts from the veteran defender in their loss to Geelong were exposed.

Williams is in the fourth year of a monster six-year deal with the Blues estimated at roughly $900,000 a season, but has struggled to live up to those lofty expectations since crossing from GWS at the end of 2020.

Having returned from a knee injury that saw him miss the entire 2023 season, the 29-year old’s form has been patchy amid the Blues’ bright start to 2024, and speaking on Fox Footy’s First Crack, former North Melbourne great David King was scathing of his performance against the Cats, claiming Williams is ‘not angry or hard enough’.

“I think [there’s] big question marks on Zac Williams, the big-money recruit, to come into a game like this and actually have an impact,” King said.

“I know he’s missed a bit of footy and we give him his dues for that – but getting outbodied by undersized small forwards, rolling up to stoppage, dump-kicking at the wrong times – just the wrong decisions at the wrong times.

“Nothing physical in this, [it’s] all state of mind stuff, for me. Just not angry enough, not hard enough.”

One particularly damning example showcased was Williams being outmarked near goal by small forward Tyson Stengle, despite the Cats star’s diminutive 172 centimetre frame.

King is adamant the Blues should consider moving on from Williams, despite his lofty price tag.

“I don’t know if you can push forward with this sort of player… if you’ve got standards at you’re footy club, and ‘Vossy’ [coach Michael Voss] was strong in the post-match about the defensive side of the game, then for me, you can’t push forward with Zac Williams in the short-term.

“You have to have a refresh – I’d be putting [Jaxon] Binns in, who was the sub, and saying ‘it’s your opportunity’.

“You’ve got to set standards. If you accept it or walk past it, that’s what you’ll become. I think you’ve got to make a call – the way he [Voss] spoke in the post-match has to be backed up by selection. You have to hold that as a premium.

“He’s not banned for life, but in the short term, go back [to the VFL], reset, and you’ll get another opportunity down the track.”

Williams has, however, been vindicated after being accused of taking a dive at a key moment in the Blues’ loss.

The defender went to ground after being clipped by Cat Ollie Henry, with Henry marking inside 50 a few moments later and kicking a goal.

Fox Footy commentator Jason Dunstall slammed Williams for going down ‘a bit too easily’, with King claiming he ‘played for the free kick and lost’.

‘He played for the free kick and lost.’

How did you see this incident involving Zac Williams?

???? Watch #AFLCatsBlues on ch. 504 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) April 27, 2024

However, Henry was handed a hefty $6,520 fine for the incident, with Match Review Officer Michael Christian deeming it incidental conduct, low impact and body contact.

If Henry accepts the charge, the fine will be reduced to $3,750.

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Dog handed one-match ban for bump

Rhylee West’s high bump on a Fremantle opponent has cost the Western Bulldogs player a one-game suspension for rough conduct.

Rhylee West’s shepherd on Fremantle opponent Brandon Walker has cost the Western Bulldogs player a one-game AFL ban for rough conduct.

Rhylee West has been handed a one-match suspension following this incident with Brandon Walker.

Full Saturday Match Review findings:

— AFL (@AFL) April 28, 2024

West collected Walker high as the Bulldogs set up Sam Darcy for a goal in the second term of Saturday night’s loss to Optus Stadium.

The incident was graded as careless conduct, medium impact and high contact.

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It means West will miss next Sunday’s match against Hawthorn unless they successfully take the case to the AFL Tribunal.

West is the latest player to face suspension under the league’s crackdown on high contact.

Walker was left on hands and knees after the incident, but he was cleared of concussion and played out the game.

Geelong’s Ollie Henry was fined for striking Carlton player Zac Williams, and Blues forward Harry McKay was also fined for umpire contact.


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