NRL coaches’ attitude to foul play must change

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A change in attitude on the training ground is needed to eradicate dangerous tackles in the NRL.

The sight of Wests Tigers prop Matt Groat lying unconscious on the Allianz Stadium turf was sickening to say the least.

The young forward had just been hit in the head by a Ben Te’o shoulder charge that would’ve stopped a charging rhino, let alone a human.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin predictably defended Te’o, who had been placed on report, saying that all of a sudden shoulder charges are illegal.

No, they’re not, but launching that shoulder into the head of an opponent so hard he is knocked out is against the rules.

Groat didn’t trip and fall to the ground. He was belted so hard the lights went out.

Coaches need to start taking more responsibility for the actions of their players.

Te’o had a choice. Tackle normally or lead with the shoulder.

He chose the latter and, with all of the variables that go along with the decision, should now pay the price.

The reaction of coaches to big incidents this season has been nothing short of irresponsible.

Take Manly coach Geoff Toovey as another example.

Toovey tried to tell the league-loving world that he didn’t see any reason to suspend second rower Tony Williams.

Williams had just treated Cronulla hooker Isaac De Gois like a rag doll, launching into a WWE body slam that would make Hulk Hogan wince and in the process showed little regard for where the head and neck of his opponent would land.

Many seasoned rugby league commentators called it the worst tackle they’d seen in some time, yet Toovey saw no problem with it.

If coaches see no problem with these incidents that clearly warrant suspension then players won’t change their techniques to avoid doing them again.

Education should start on the training ground. Coaches look foolish when they try to tell the world the sky is purple when it’s clearly blue.

Toovey’s defence of his player was nothing short of ridiculous and Griffin’s response was close to being in the same category.

It’s fine if Te’o wanted to inspire his team with a big hit, but next time it needs to be within the rules of the game.

You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.

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