Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has had his say on the crusher tackle and how to manage it in the NRL. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

NRL won’t have crusher tackle assessment

2020-08-21 14:58:54

The NRL won’t implement a HIA-like check for victims of crusher tackles, fearing it would only open the door for more flouting of the rules.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart called for the move on Friday, claiming players milking penalties is “rife” in the NRL.

It continued a nasty fallout from Melbourne’s loss to Parramatta on Thursday night, with Brad Arthur and Craig Bellamy disagreeing on whether Eels players had milked penalties.

Neither Melbourne’s Cooper Johns or Albert Vete were charged over the tackles on Friday, while Parramatta’s Marata Niukore faces a possible two-game ban for one.

It came as Stuart suggested a compulsory off-field check for players who stay down after possible crusher tackles, in a bid to look after their safety and stop any potential of milking.

“The last thing we need is players laying down and milking a penalty on it because it’s rife in the game and we need to get that out of it,” Stuart said.

“We have to eradicate the tackle but we’ve also got to be very, very mindful of players milking a penalty out of it because you’ve got a player’s short-term career on the line.

“It’s a pretty healthy suspension … and having a player out for a player laying down, faking an injury, is also unfair.

“If there is a concern over a crusher tackle I think that there should be, a little bit like the HIA.

“A player’s taken off the 15 minutes to assess the injury because we don’t want a player having to play on with any type of risk around the spine or the neck.”

But the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley said that would not work, given there are already concerns over the possible manipulation of concussion protocols to earn free interchange.

“Suggestions of having players spend mandatory periods of time off the field if they claim they are injured from these types of tackles will only open the door to abuse of the interchange rule,” Annesley said.

“The bottom line is, players always have a duty to accept personal responsibility for their actions as their own integrity and credibility is at stake.”

Annesley – who stressed he was not talking specifically about the Storm-Eels clash – said it also couldn’t be put on referees to determine if a player was feigning injury.

“It’s extremely difficult for anyone other than a player claiming he is injured to know whether he is in fact, injured or not.

“Referees are not doctors and are certainly not in any position to tell a player he is feigning injury.

“The bunker and match review committee similarly have very little prospect of determining injury based solely on video review.”

The NRL this week upped the penalties for players who apply extra force on a rival’s head or neck, after a 212 per cent increase in charges this year.

Master coach Wayne Bennett said that was needed as he had little sympathy for any player banned for a crusher tackle.

“There is a part of all this, a duty of care to each other as players,” Bennett said.

“I am no fan of the crusher tackle. Never have been.

“They are becoming more predominant. I don’t know if they were faking it last night some of the players.

“But what I do know is don’t do the tackle and you won’t have a problem.”