Call for NRL to act against lifting, dodgy tackles
RUGBY LEAGUE: The NRL must consider immediately applying the same automatic sin bin rule to players who lift in tackles or shoulder-charge opponents, just as it does to players who throw a punch during games.
The NRL's "no punch rule" which carries an automatic trip to the sin bin, is the only rule which is working effectively.
Because players know the immediate consequence would be to leave their team a man down, potentially costing it the game.
A punch hasn't been thrown since the rule was introduced last year.
Yet we see a constant flow of players fronting the NRL judiciary after every round, hit with dangerous throw and shoulder charge offences because the administrators are not tough enough on offenders who are just not getting the message.
Sending a warning letter to Sydney Roosters forward Kane Evans for a shoulder charge at the weekend on 122kg Bulldogs forward Sam Kasiano, similar to the one which claimed the life of young Sunshine Coast father James Ackerman a month ago, falls well short of a so-called "crackdown".
What's even more alarming than the NRL's failure to deliver a clear message, is the number of ex-players and current players suddenly calling for the potentially fatal tackle to be allowed back in the game.
Are they kidding?
After last year's lifting tackle which left young Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon in a wheelchair, the NRL promised a crackdown.
It hasn't delivered, and the players haven't stopped offending.
Anyone who lifts a player in a dangerous position or uses a shoulder charge should be automatically suspended for four weeks, with another two weeks added for each subsequent offence.
That kind of harsh penalty would rid the game of offenders pretty quickly.
Melbourne Storm, Queensland and Australian captain Cameron Smith, clearly concerned that the Evans tackle was not acted on, has called on the NRL to quickly clarify its position on the shoulder charge which, in his opinion, has no place in the game.
Others however, like former Parramatta great Peter Sterling and NSW captain Paul Gallen, have called for the shoulder charge to be brought back, with the proviso that if it goes wrong, the consequences for the offender are severe.
"I just think they should bring it back, to be honest with you," Gallen told Sky Sports Radio.
"If you're going to shoulder-charge someone and it's going to go wrong and you hit someone in the head, they (the NRL) are going to have to mark it really, really hard and give you weeks on the sideline.
"If it comes off like the one on the weekend, well, you know, play on."
The Ackerman family already know the catastrophic consequences of that strategy.