1 Apr 2014

Call for ban on lift tackles

5:09 pm on 1 April 2014

Australia's top sports medicine body has called for a ban on lift tackles in all football codes, following the horrific injury to National Rugby League player Alex McKinnon.

The Newcastle Knights back-rower is reported to have been diagnosed a quadriplegic after fracturing two vertebrae on 24 March. The 22-year-old landed on his neck in a three-man tackle by Melbourne Storm's Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Jordan McLean, AAP reports.

Alex McKinnon just before he landed on his head and neck.

Alex McKinnon just before he landed on his head and neck. Photo: AAP

Sports Medicine Australia chief executive Nello Marino said on Tuesday while McKinnon received top medical care, players below the elite level are not as fortunate, and the only way all sporting codes can sufficiently prevent such injuries is to outlaw tackles in which a player's legs are lifted from the ground and their body inverted.

"While McKinnon's case was a rare accident, it was one that could happen to a player taking to the field at any level," Mr Marino said in a statement.

"This tragic accident should not be seen as something that is par for the course in contact sports - gone are the days when a player would take to the field despite knowing there a significant risk of serious injury.

"The only way we are going to see less of these types of terrible accidents will be to make safety the priority when making rules or considering rule changes - a ban on the lift tackle reflects this."

SMA's high-profile sports physician Peter Larkins said lift tackles placed players at huge risk of sustaining serious damage to their head and spine.

"We would strongly urge all elite and local football codes where tackles like this are used to consider banning them to prevent further tragic accidents like that of Alex McKinnon," Dr Larkins said.