By laws of fairness, NRL needs 18th man
If you get caught breaking the law, you get locked up straight away. So why is it with all these illegal plays taking out players for the remainder of a match, all that happens is a report, a free interchange and a penalty?
Ten interchanges are quite a lot, and penalty counts are out of control at the moment (another story), so one penalty isn’t enough, as it doesn’t hand down any immediate justice for the current match.
So why is it in round 20 against St George that Greg Inglis was allowed to play on for the remainder of the match without any justice being delivered for the opposing team apart from a penalty? Inglis played the rest of the game, becoming an influential player.
But as much as I think the repercussions of illegal actions should be greater, I don’t believe in sending players off, or sin binning, as that depletes the quality of the game. So why not introduce an 18th man?
Regardless of when the incident happens, be it the first or 79th minute, if it is illegal the victim should be compensated for the loss. Their team may get a free interchange, but regardless of this they’re still reduced to 16 players for the rest of the match. If it happens in the first minute, you’re one player short for 79. Ask any coach how they would fare with 16 players against 17 for a full match.
Regardless of this, if an action is illegal, it should be punished. Introduce the 18th man to the bench and he can either run on or become available for an interchange.
This would then eliminate any need to ban the shoulder charge as the risk of getting it wrong would warrant enough pressure to get it right or not do it at all. Head high tackles are rare these days and some are just plain soft.
But when a hit occurs like the one Sam Kasiano put on Fui Fui Moi Moi (round 19), granted it wasn’t charged at the judiciary but did take a player out of the game and was deemed a reportable offence, then would be a perfect opportunity to bring on an 18th man to the bench. Play on, both teams have an equal opportunity to win the match.
Travis Burns onto Martin Kennedy (round 20) was a heavy hit, Kennedy was knocked out and cognitive tests came back that he wasn’t allowed back on the field. Though it occurred late in the match, I still think they should bring in the 18th man to compensate. Travis Burns may now have to sit out nine or so matches but he still played the rest of that match.
There is a lot of speculation about bringing in a new bench player or 18th man, but with shoulder charges destined to stay as “it separates us from union,” include the 18th man option for when these instances go wrong.
Instead of an illegal play being a turning point in the match for the offending team, make it just as much an opportunity for the victim team to retaliate with a fresh player.
Again, I must emphasise, these kinds of hits are illegal.