Higgins learns fate for dangerous tackle after Saints’ ’10 reasons why’ defence in marathon Tribunal hearing


Jack Higgins’ three-match suspension for a dangerous tackle on Port Adelaide defender Aliir Aliir has been upheld after a marathon three and a half-hour Tribunal hearing.

Higgins’ tackle, which left Aliir with a concussion and ruled him out of the Power’s Showdown clash with Adelaide on Thursday night, was graded as careless conduct with severe impact and high contact by Match Review Officer Michael Christian.

The Saints argued the tackle should not be considered rough conduct, while also claiming ‘exceptional and compelling circumstances’ should be taken into account, saying Aliir was partly responsible for his head hitting the ground by attempting to kick the ball and citing his height and weight advantage over Higgins as contributing to the injury.

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

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Speaking to the Tribunal, Higgins said he ‘can’t tackle a 95 kilo man to the ground’, saying Aliir’s body weight and momentum coming across his body led to him coming off balance and pulling the Port defender down.

“Even a Port Adelaide player said it was a good tackle and that I was stiff,” he added.

The Saints brought in biomechanist Dr Helen Bayne to give evidence that Aliir’s ‘angular momentum’ as he tried to kick the ball led to him being dragged down, though she said there was no certainty he wouldn’t have suffered the head knock even if he hadn’t made the attempt.

Saints counsel Adrian Anderson summed up their case by giving 10 reasons Higgins shouldn’t be suspended, which included Aliir being ‘taller, bigger and stronger’ than Higgins, that the Saint had no alternative in laying the tackle, and that the innocuous nature of the incident was reflected in no Power players remonstrating with him afterwards; while also claiming a dangerous tackle by GWS captain Toby Greene on Gold Coast’s Mac Andrew, which wasn’t cited by the MRO, was a far worst incident.

Is Toby Greene in trouble for this dangerous tackle? ????

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The AFL counter-argued that Higgins had made the tackle unsafe by holding onto Aliir’s arm and preventing him from being able to brace for contact, saying he should have foreseen an attempt to kick and claiming he’d failed in his duty of care by placing Aliir in a ‘vulnerable position’.

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“In other words, Higgins initiated the dangerous tackle and placed Aliir in a vulnerable position,” AFL counsel Nick Payne summed up.

In upholding the suspension, the Tribunal deemed the tackle ‘a clear case of rough conduct’.

“Higgins used a poor and dangerous technique tackling Aliir to ground,” the statement read.

“He grabbed hold of Aliir’s left arm and forcefully rotated him to ground. Higgins applied excessive force through a combination of dragging Aliir down by his left arm, while also using his bodyweight and right arm to help bring a bigger player to ground.

“Importantly, at no stage did Higgins release Aliir’s left arm as he was coming to ground so that Aliir had control of his arm and could try to use it to protect himself. Higgins had hold of Aliir’s arm in such a way that Aliir had no or little ability to use it to try to protect himself.

“A player exercising reasonable care would have released control of Aliir’s left arm to give him some opportunity to try to protect himself.”

The Tribunal also dismissed any case of exceptional circumstances that could have downgraded the sanction, and said Aliir’s contribution to his head hitting the ground was not sufficient to clear the Saints forward of responsibility.

Higgins will now miss the Saints’ matches against North Melbourne, Hawthorn and Fremantle.

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