AFL world divided over Jack Higgins act as Port Adelaide suffer trio of injuries

Aliir Aliir was ruled out of Friday night's game after his head slammed into the ground in a Jack Higgins tackle.

St Kilda forward Jack Higgins' tackle on Aliir Aliir has sparked fierce debate across the AFL world. In the second quarter of Friday night's match between the Saints and Port Adelaide, Power defender Aliir picked up a loose ball inside St Kilda’s forward 50 only to be slung to the ground by Higgins.

As Aliir was taken to the ground his head slammed into the turf and the impact saw the Port defender taken from the ground. He played no further part in the match. With dangerous tackles and head blows under intense scrutiny from the league, the forward is likely to face a sanction from the match review officer.

St Kilda forward Jack Higgins left and right his tackle on Aliir Aliir
St Kilda forward Jack Higgins faces a nervous wait to learn the Match Review Officer's findings after a dangerous tackle on Aliir Aliir on Friday night. Image: Getty

The AFL community, however, is split on whether Higgins should be banned for the tackle. Many are of the belief that he should face many weeks on the sidelines, however, several greats believe Aliir was as much to blame for his injury as Higgins.

"That’s what they’re trying to bring in to protect," Luke Hodge said on Channel 7. "He’s forcefully pulled him down. If you pin the arm and bring him forcefully to the ground you’re going to be in trouble."

But Hawthorn great Jordan Lewis said he feels for Higgins."I feel for Higgins," Lewis said on Fox Footy’s halftime show. "If Aliir Aliir understands that he’s being tackled and doesn’t then try to kick the ball then there’s probably no case to answer for. If you’re looking at what players contribute to that, I think it’s 50/50, I think Allir contributes 50% of that force by going to the ground trying to dispose the ball."

Former Melbourne captain Garry Lyon agreed with Lewis' take on the incident but AFL legend Nathan Buckley did not, stating the blame has to be solely put on Higgins. "It’s a very interesting point, I thought that Higgins would get a week every day, but the fact that he tried to kick the footy means he was more off balance than he perhaps would’ve been," Lyon said.

Buckley interrupted: "I would love that to be the case, but the fact is that the duty of care is slated to the tackler, which means Higgins is responsible for any negative impact of it." Social media was equally divided, with some saying Aliir is partly responsible for his injury, while others called for the Saints forward to be suspended.

Port Adelaide's 82 to 72 win against St Kilda was soured by three stars going down with injuries. Most devastating of all is pressure forward Sam Powell-Pepper's potentially season-ending knee injury.

Powell-Pepper will have scans on his knee after going off during the third quarter of Port's 12-point win over St Kilda in what was a night of carnage for the Power. On Friday night the side also lost captain Connor Rozee (hamstring) and defender Aliir Aliir (concussion). All three will almost certainly miss Port's Showdown against Adelaide on Thursday night.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 26: Sam Powell-Pepper of the Power is injures his knee during the 2024 AFL Round 07 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the St Kilda Saints at Adelaide Oval on April 26, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Power forward Sam Powell-Pepper's suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury in the win over St Kilda.

Following the match coach Ken Hinkley admitted he was hoping for the best but fearing the worst for Powell-Pepper. "The medical report is that they're a little bit hopeful," he said. "But we'll wait and see what, again, what the scan says. There's some scare because he's hurt his knee.

"When you hurt your knee, and can't go back on, my history in the game and the amount of times I've seen those sorts of things happen, it lends itself towards possibly being an ACL. But the doctors were saying afterwards, that there's some promising parts around the way it tested. We won't guess, it's too hard to guess."


It was only Powell-Pepper's third game for the 2024 season after he served a four-match suspension for a high bump during a pre-season hitout.Rozee will also likely be sidelined at least a few weeks. The 24-year-old will undergo scans and indicated in a post-game interview it was likely a minor hamstring strain.

"Just a little nick in the hammy so hopefully not too long," Rozee told the Seven Network. Meanwhile, Aliir has been placed into concussion protocols following his head knock from the Higgins tackle and will miss next week's match against the Crows.

with AAP