West Coast midfielder Luke Shuey has vowed to continue attacking the ball the same way despite a surge in commentary about ducking and high tackles.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson put the topic back on the agenda last week when discussing Joel Selwood.
Geelong’s captain received more high tackles last year than any other player and has been accused of accentuating high contact by lowering his body and raising his arm.
Shuey received the third-most high tackles last season, including a free kick in the elimination final against Port Adelaide which led to him kicking the winning goal after the siren.
The Eagles’ vice-captain has been ranked in the top two for the most free kicks at the club in each of the past four years, but is currently equal seventh and has received only one high tackle free kick this season.
An umpire yelled that he ducked into a tackle during Sunday’s win over Geelong, but Shuey said nobody had raised his technique and he would play the same way against Gold Coast at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about it, I haven’t changed the way I play,” he said.
“Since I was a young kid, I’ve always been taught to go in low at the footy and stay low so you are hard to tackle. I’ll keep doing that until that’s illegal.”
Shuey has been a clear beneficiary of Nic Naitanui’s return from a knee reconstruction this season, with the pair’s on-field relationship giving West Coast an advantage at stoppages.
He is averaging a career-high seven clearances per game and he kicked a team-lifting goal from a centre clearance against the Cats.
The Victorian said the players were relishing an attacking approach this season.
“It’s exciting and it’s fun when it comes off,” Shuey said.
“When you do it right, you are capable of kicking big scores and that’s always a fun part of footy.
“It’s something we’ve worked on.”
Naitanui and Mark LeCras will share a milestone against the Suns. It will be Naitanui’s 150th match and LeCras’ 200th.
“It means a lot being able to share it with him as well because we are pretty close mates,” LeCras said.
Liam Ryan will miss three months with an ankle injury sustained against Geelong.
“The good news is though he’s avoided surgery ... which will allow for a quicker recovery,” football manager Craig Vozzo told the Eagles’ website.