Prominent sports physician Peter Larkins says Adelaide forward Tom Lynch will likely be spoken to about the way he plays football after his latest head knock.
Lynch was taken from the field after ducking into a tackle from North Melbourne’s Jack Ziebell and suffering a concussion during Sunday’s NAB Challenge game in Port Lincoln. After assessing the incident, the match review panel did not attribute any blame to Ziebell, stating that “Lynch lowered his body in a bid to evade the approaching tackle and, as the North Melbourne player moved towards him, high contact was made between Ziebell’s hip area and Lynch’s head.”
The latest blow came less than seven months after the former St Kilda player sustained neck fractures in a sickening incident during a game against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba.
Both the injuries triggered criticism of Lynch’s ducking action, with suggestions he was his own worst enemy and could end up in further strife unless he stopped using the tactic.
While noting that the issue was a difficult one, Larkins suggested that Adelaide would raise the matter with Lynch.
“He’ll probably be spoken to about it. I don’t know how you take the instincts out of a player like that, unless they become gun-shy themselves and therefore don’t commit to the contest,” Larkins said.
“The way I saw it, I didn’t think he did anything reckless. It’s the reckless ones the AFL talks to the clubs about.”
Umpires are already told not to pay free kicks against players who intentionally duck into tackles, but Larkins believes it should be taken a step further.
“We’ve spoken medically about it for two seasons, about the player who deliberately tries to draw a free kick by ducking their head. Not only does he not get a free kick, he also should have a free kick against him for reckless behaviour.”
Larkins emphasised that the fearlessness of players was a much-admired trait in the game, and cautioned against over-the-top reaction.
“I’ve heard it said about Jimmy Bartel, about Joel Selwood,” he said. “The good players are putting their head over the ball and they’re taught to do that.
“It’s a very difficult line to draw between telling a player not to put his head over the ball and to go in. We know they’re protected by the laws of the game, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still break your neck.”
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