Cooper Cronk was hit late by Tevita Pangai Jnr. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Cooper Cronk was hit late by Tevita Pangai Jnr. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Joey fumes after Pangai ‘dog shot’ floors Cronk

Andrew Johns is once again pleading with the NRL to protect its star playmakers after Roosters No.7 Cooper Cronk was whacked by a Tevita Pangai "dog shot" in Thursday Night Football.

Only a fortnight after revealing repeated head knocks during his own stellar career may have caused epilepsy, Johns slammed a Pangai tackle that, midway through the first half, ironed out Cronk late, and well after passing the Steeden.

Attacking the Broncos tryline, the 89kg Rooster offloaded the ball when - whack - he was hit by a tackle which Johns labelled late and a "dog shot".

Cooper Cronk was hit late by Tevita Pangai Jnr. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Cooper Cronk was hit late by Tevita Pangai Jnr. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

While Pangai was placed on report, the eighth Immortal suggested he should have been sin binned.

Johns has spent over four years urging the NRL to provide greater protection for playmakers.

Ironically, he initially made the call way back in 2015 after a series of late shots on North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston - the same man who on Thursday night sat beside him in the Channel Nine commentary box.

"That's a dead set cheap shot," Johns said after the Pangai tackle. "We have to get that out of the game.

 

Cronk following the late hit. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Cronk following the late hit. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

"I think that should be a sin bin.

"He (Cronk) isn't looking and giving away 30kg ... watch the whiplash in his neck. It's a dog shot."

While Cronk would be replaced early in the second half of the Sydney Cricket Ground thumping, it's understood his reported back injury was not a result of the Pangai hit.

Regardless, fellow commentators Thurston, Brad Fittler and Paul Vautin all agreed action needed to be taken.

Cowboys great Thurston said the tackle must be "stamped out", while Vautin suggested it was only a matter of time before one of the game's poster boys was seriously injured by a similar hit.

 

Cronk later left the field. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Cronk later left the field. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

"I don't think halfbacks should be allowed play in a dinner suit," Vautin said. "But that's wrong.

"Someone is going to get seriously injured."

NSW Origin coach Fittler, who could potentially pick Pangai for the Blues this year, not only agreed but suggested the Broncos No.13 should be punished by the judiciary.

"This is way too late," Freddy said of the tackle. "It has to cost him (at the judiciary)."

Midway through last year, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg announced referees could use the sin bin for foul play.

On Thursday night, Johns wanted to know why it wasn't for Pangai.

Indeed, the Newcastle great has been campaigning for tougher penalties since a 2015 game where Thurston was whacked late by Knights backrower Beau Scott.

Later that year, a tackle on Penrith's Jamie Soward by Parramatta forward Pauli Pauli was also branded "a cheap shot".

 

LISTEN! Pressure on the Clearys, Ponga's missing spark and rich pickings for the Blues. Plus Matty's confrontation with "The Animal". Don't miss this week's episode of The Matty Johns podcast with Paul Kent and James Hooper.

 

 

Then in 2017, Johns slammed Canberra enforcer Sia Soliola for a late tackle that knocked Billy Slater out - "that was as cheap as they come, he should've been sent off" - while also branding Brisbane forward Adam Blair guilty of a "coward" act on Cronk, then still with Melbourne.

"Every weekend I see halfbacks go to the line and pass," Johns said. "And then a second or two later the guy 22 kilos bigger than him just smashes him from behind in the ribs or kidneys.

"How can we produce smaller guys who are creative when they pass the ball and big blokes come from behind and smash them in the kidneys and ribs?"

And so it continued.

Last year, Johns smashed Melbourne forward Sam Kasiano for a "coward hit" on Thurston. A week later, the Cowboys great was whacked by Manly forward Jack Gosiewski long after passing the ball in a match at Lottoland.

Quizzed on the Pangai tackle, Thurston said: "You can see the whiplash ... that hurts and takes a toll."

News Corp Australia


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