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Aaron Naughton dropped hip tackle, injury, Lewis Melican, video, tackling technique debate, NRL

A serious injury to Bulldogs star Aaron Naughton has sparked debate over hip-drop tackles in the AFL.

Naughton was tackled by Swans defender Lewis Melican early in the second quarter, with his leg twisted at a horrific angle that left the striker lying on the ground in pain.

The 24-year-old has been ruled out for four to six weeks with a medial collateral ligament injury, but fortunately avoided the dreaded ACL tear.

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Fox Footy reporter Jon Ralph revealed in Thursday night’s coverage that Naughton feared a torn ACL and “might need a miracle to play again this season”.

“All the telltale signs, that twisting, wrenching motion when Lewis Melican knocked him to the ground, the instant pain that is so common is the symptom of those torn ACLs,” Ralph added.

Beyond the miracle and analyzing the incident, AFL greats Jason Dunstall, David King and Leigh Montagna questioned what the repercussions of his injury could mean for the league.

“He has been banned from the NRL. It’s the hip drop tackle where you put all your weight on your back legs to take the player down,” King said at halftime.

Fans will be crossing their fingers that Naughton’s injury is not as serious as feared (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images).Source: Getty Images

“It causes severe trauma and massive injuries; Now these are unintended consequences of not being able to shoot or the referee not blowing his whistle quickly enough.”

“Right, right,” added Hawthorn legend Dunstall.

“Take a look at all the weight going through the lower leg; “He breaks his legs, he’s got syndesmosis written all over him, he breaks his ankle, he’s got trauma to his knee – he’s the one they hate in the NRL,” King continued.

“I think maybe we should think about this; “I don’t have the answer, but we have to recognize that this is not good for our game.”

Strong bans for high contact have caused players to adjust their technique in competition, calling into question the structure of the tackle.

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“We’re not NRL, we don’t see a lot of this, but if you’re not allowed to throw it on the ground, you’re not allowed to drag it down, what are we allowed to do?” -Dunstall asked.

“We can’t play touch (soccer); When you set these other rules, these are the unintended consequences: I think the referee needs to blow his whistle much faster to avoid the drop (tackle).

“I think we can all agree that they give you forever and just wait for the ball to come out effectively.”

“That’s the only change I would make, but it’s a broken leg every day of the week,” King concluded.

St Kilda champion Montagna defended the tacklers and put the onus on the referees.

Since being made illegal in 2020, many players have been sent off and suspended for hip drop tackles in the rival rugby league code (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Yes, that’s ugly, we don’t want to see any of that.

“But we have seen a number of tackles where players tried to do the right thing and be nice.

“But the referees let them play and allowed the opposing player to get the ball.”

The NRL banned the hip drop tackle in 2020 to prevent injuries similar to those suffered by Naughton.

Last weekend, Canberra Raiders prop Josh Papali’i was suspended for a hip-drop tackle.

In 2022, Bronco Pat Carrigan was suspended for four weeks for the same motion, in which Wests Tigers opponent Jackson Hastings broke his leg.

NFL clubs also recently voted to ban the law in early March of this year and it will take effect beginning with the start of next season.

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