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By Danielle Smith
We have had two fantastic rounds of footy, full of close finishes, runaway scores, upsets, and acrobatic tries.
But there have been two nasty pimples that keep rearing their ugly heads: the cannonball tackle and players being taken around the legs mid-air.
While not new to the game, they seem to be more prevalent this season, with both types of illegal actions being performed far too often.
The dangerous acts are causing havoc on the field, and both have the potential to cause serious damage to the targeted player.
While officials are aware and are doing their best to penalise accordingly, the dilemma extends beyond the field. We now face the problem of the punishment not fitting the crime.
Tigers captain James Tamou received a one match ban for taking out the legs of Sydney Roosters kicker Sam Walker during their trial match in February. Cronulla’s Teig Wilton is also facing just one week on the sideline after he performed the same tackle on Eel’s halfback Mitch Moses during the Sharks win over Parramatta on Saturday night.
We've made a decision on Teig Wilton and his grade two dangerous contact charge.— Cronulla Sharks (@cronullasharks) March 21, 2022
Very doubtful those light sentences will teach Tamou and Wilton not to do it again.
In the past two weeks Rooster’s player Lyndsay Collins, Cowboy’s Jake Granville, Parramatta’s Ray Stone, and Melbourne’s Trent Loiero were all charged for performing cannonball tackles. And what did they receive? Fines. No suspension, just a fine.
Not good enough NRL, not good enough at all.
While many applauded the new judiciary structure, it seems to have left a gaping hole for these kinds of offences. The sentencing for these kind of tackles seem…well, soft, and it may prove detrimental to both being stamped out for good.
NRL commentator Michael Ennis spoke to Fox Sports about his thoughts on the cannonball tackle.
“We need to get those tackles out of the game. They’re just really, really ugly and it’s going to do someone real damage," he said.
“I don’t think the players are deliberately going in there to hurt him but it’s a tackle we’ve got to get out of the game because it’s dangerous and someone is going to get seriously hurt.
“The NRL has to be stronger because there has to be a duty of care there because somebody is going to get hurt.”
The knees are already put under enough pressure from the game itself.
So far, we have seen three players been ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing their ACL’s.
The Storm’s George Jennings, the Cowboy’s Mitch Dunn and the Raider’s Josh Hodgson were all extremely unfortunate and their injuries completely unaided. We don’t need players from other teams targeting the knees and helping that tally to grow.
And if the latter does occur, it shouldn’t take for a player to do his ACL or have his kneecap dislocated for the perpetrator to be punished severely.
We all remember our stomachs churning after seeing Alex McKinnon laying on the ground motionless after falling victim to a spear tackle. The former Newcastle Knight tragically became a quadriplegic after the event and is now bound to a wheelchair.
The NRL ensured it did everything possible to remove that action from the game and have done a brilliant job continuing that ever since.
Now they must do the same again.
With so much emphasis and progress being made over the years to stamp out contact with the neck and head, the same needs to be done with these two disgusting tackles.
They need be scrubbed out of the game to keep our players safe - and penalised to the limit until they are.
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