Eagles coach slams AFL over 'Nic Nat' rule

Justin Chadwick, Ben McKay and Jason Phelan
Nic Naitanui has failed in his attempt to overturn at one-game AFL ban for rough conduct

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has blasted Michael Christian's handling of the Nic Naitanui tackling controversy, labelling it as sloppy.

And Simpson questioned whether the match review officer simply made up a "Nic rule" to stop the powerful ruckman laying hard tackles.

Naitanui was controversially handed a one-week ban for his heavy tackle that drove Karl Amon's head into the turf.

Amon was later diagnosed with a delayed concussion.

West Coast's appeal failed on Wednesday night and the ban has left the footy world divided.

The tribunal's assessment that the 110kg Naitanui had a duty of care to consider the size and weight difference between himself and 79kg Amon has also been criticised.

Naitanui was left "dumbfounded" by the decision to ban him, and has pledged to keep playing in the same manner.

Simpson felt Christian did a poor job assessing Naitanui's bump from the outset.

"He got that wrong with suggestions that both arms were pinned (and that) Amon came off and didn't come back on. So that was just a bit sloppy," Simpson said of Christian''s initial assessment

"The follow-up from that (is he went) on every radio station and suggested it was the easiest decision he's ever made.

"I would have thought we can make that (comment) after the tribunal, not before. So the natural justice I suppose of everything is a bit flawed there."

St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt has felt a growing unease with some of Christian's decision-making, and said the Naitanui case had been the tipping point.

"Either Michael Christian is having an absolute 'mare - he's having a nightmare, he's having an absolute shocker - or the rules are wrong, Riewoldt told Fox Footy's AFL360.

Fremantle great Matthew Pavlich said Naitanui intended to hurt his opponent, but was stiff to cop a suspension because players should be allowed to lay tough tackles.

AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking tried to clarify the league's position about tackling on Thursday, saying it wasn't necessary for players to assess potential weight disparities before being physical with their opponent.

Hocking said Naitanui's ban was about protecting the head and neck of players, describing the decision as "for the greater good of the game".

He also said the AFL would consider stopping Christian from making public comments before potential tribunal hearings if players and coaches continued to voice their displeasure.

Simpson said instead of tackling, Naitanui may have to resort to laying bumps - something that could result in more serious injuries to his opponents.

"He got the tackle wrong. That's OK. That's a free kick. But what does he do from now on?" Simpson asked.

"So now I've got to make a decision, and so does Nic ... does he hip and shoulder is the question?

"Because I'm not sure there's been any suspensions on that with incidental head knocks. I don't think that's the right thing to do, but now I'm a little bit confused.

"Maybe it's just a Nic rule because he's so powerful. And (they are sending the message) don't be so powerful and strong and aggressive in the act of play - I'm not sure."