Australia’s peak sports medicine body has called for a ban on lift tackles in all football codes following the horrific injury to NRL player Alex McKinnon.
The 22-year-old Newcastle back-rower is facing life in a wheelchair amid reports that he has been diagnosed as a quadriplegic.
McKinnon fractured two vertebrae last Monday after landing on his neck in a three-man tackle by Melbourne trio Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Jordan McLean.
Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) chief executive Nello Marino said, while McKinnon received top medical care, players below the elite level are not as fortunate.
He said the only way all sporting codes, not just rugby league, 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,” Marino said in a statement on Tuesday.
“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 Dr 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 added.