Judiciary needs to get serious over lifting
HAD the NRL not outlawed the punch from rugby league following the infamous Paul Gallen attack on the head of Nate Myles in Origin One last year, last week's opening to the 2014 series could well have been not just a battlefield, but a bloodbath.
Several incidents - the most obvious the frightening lifting tackle on Brent Tate - would have lit the powder keg in days past. But with instant sin bin dismissal now a formality, the restraint displayed by the players has been profound.
Now, the governing body has to send the same message regarding the lifting tackle. And if three players are in the tackle and the referees believe all three are at fault, then so be it - all three are binned. Obviously that would have major repercussions on the team left short, but enough is enough.
Players are not heeding the message because 10 suspensions for dangerous throws were handed down two years ago, yet already 17 players have been charged this season. And alarmingly, 16 of those have been before the judiciary since the much-publicised Alex McKinnon tackle.
Has the NRL judiciary gone soft on lifting tackles?
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Those watching Origin One did not need Brent Tate to inform us how frightened he felt when rotated 180 degrees by Josh Reynolds and Beau Scott. And I shudder to think what the casual rugby league viewers among the four million TV viewers thought when only a penalty was awarded.
However, to discover a day later than neither perpetrator of the ugly tackle would miss a game through suspension would surely force a cringe from the uninitiated.
I can hear the mums of youngsters bleating 'my boy will never play that game'. And seriously, who could blame them?
Legal eagles and biomechanics experts will no doubt have a bag full of reasons why the tackle went wrong, but the fact is while in the air, Tate was an accident looking for somewhere to happen.
By the grace of God he had fate on his side, but will the next bloke be blessed with that same stroke of luck?
The problem is that the NRL match review committee members and those sitting on the judiciary are reading from different song sheets. One committee is doing its job, the other - consisting of former players - is seemingly being softened up by legal jargon and angel-faced players in designer suits.
I have no doubt the NRL is fair dinkum in its bid to rid the game of this repugnant tackle, which has escalated this season. But the message being sent to the masses, particularly in the past two weeks with successive downgrades, is that former players do not agree.
If that is the case, sack ex-players from the judiciary and appoint people more qualified - like mums and dads and our future stars.