Port Adelaide have come under fire after defender Aliir Aliir was not put through a head injury assessment following a sickening clash of heads with teammate Lachie Jones in Saturday night's AFL loss to Adelaide. A heavy collision in a marking contest saw both players go to ground in the second quarter, with Jones subbed out due to a 'migraine'.
Fans were left disconcerted when Aliir returned to the field just seven minutes later, with Port Adelaide doctor Mark Fisher confirming in the wake of the contest that he was comfortable with the decision not to conduct at HIA after seeing footage of the incident. While head coach Ken Hinkley backed the decision after the game, fans on social media were far more concerned.
Hinkley said after the 47-point loss to the Crows that he cold understand the concern from fans, admitting he was surprised himself that Aliir was as 'clear' and 'bright' as he was after the collision. The 28-year-old played out the game with no issues, however his availability for round 21 remains to be seen.
Remarkably, Hinkley said Jones had passed a concussion test, meaning he could, technically, be named to face Geelong next weekend, given the Power subbed him off for a migraine. However the explanations did not sit well with the likes of former Port Adelaide player Sam Skinner or ex-West Coast star Will Schofield.
“The only thing I can work you through is that it was played out through the right hands and that was the doctor,” Hinkley said. “The doctor made those decisions based around both players and he was really, really clear and really certain to me.
“And with Aliir too, Aliir in particular I can tell you because I actually sat and spoke with Aliir and Aliir spoke with me clear as he could be. The doctor was very, very comfortable that the situation was well and truly ok and that he was able to go back on.
“I can understand from your point of view that you might look at it, because again as soon as he’d come off I was absolutely surprised myself at how clear he looked and how bright he looked. I don’t think Aliir had any issue himself ... he was the same Aliir that I was talking before the game as the one I was talking to on the bench.”
It has since emerged that the AFL will investigate the actions of the power and determine whether or not Aliir ought to have undergone a HIA.
If the AFL is legit about protecting players well-being this should have serious consequences.
Aliir Aliir not even given an assessment is THE issue when it comes to player-well-being NOT trying to eliminate every second tackle from a full contact sport https://t.co/lRcT1mVrH2
— Mitch Casey (@ballboysfantasy) July 30, 2023
Port surely will be getting a massive Please Explain re Aliir Aliir no Concussion Test
— Frank Milanese (@frankmilanese) July 30, 2023
The vision clearly shows Aliir Aliir out on the ground. The Dr might need to get his eyes checked.
— Dorothy Chambers (@dotchambers26) July 30, 2023
This situation with Aliir Aliir and Lachie Jones is sickening. Shows that Port Adelaide FC has no respect for their players as people. Concussions are serious, life changing injuries and their neglectful actions are disgraceful.
— charlise (Taylor’s Version) (@wisteriagrowx) July 29, 2023
I’m not a doctor and I’m certainly not going to pretend to be but the fact Aliir Aliir was able to return to the field without having a HIA is incredibly disturbing.
Where’s the duty of care?
— Jords (@jordss27) July 29, 2023
Skinner, who played two games for the Power in 2022 before being delisted, was less than impressed and took to social media to question the decision. He speculated that Port Adelaide were not following the rules in good faith.
“Allowed back on after this? Duty of care?” Skinner wrote on Twitter. “And they’ll call it ‘delayed concussion’ during the week to cover their a***s.”
Ken Hinkley adamant correct concussion protocols were followed
Schofield was in agreement, calling for an independent doctor to be present at every game to avoid any potential for decisions like this one to be second guessed. Both players stayed on the ground before being helped up by club trainers and medicos.
Port Adelaide were at the centre of a similar furore last year involving a collision between Zak Butters and Tom Jonas, but were ultimately cleared upon review from the AFL's chief medical officer. Hinkley said he couldn't be sure if Jones would face the Cats next weekend, but said he would be clear after passing the concussion test.
“Lachie didn’t fail the concussion test … he was subbed out with a migraine,” Hinkley said. “He’d done the concussion test and passed it.
“I don’t know whether he’ll play against the Cats because he came off the ground with an issue. One thing you can be really certain around is this footy club won’t take any risks with people’s health.
“That’s just not something we’re going to do. I don’t care who we play and when we play, we will do the right thing by the player first and foremost and our doctor is incredibly experienced, and he’ll make sure that’s the case.”
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