NRL coaches’ attitude to foul play must change

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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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.

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    The Crowd Says (43)

    • April 9th 2012 @ 7:31am
      oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 7:31am | ! Report

      It is up to coaches to teach their players to hit and spin or sidestep big hits. Teo was not going for his head, this is where you keep making the mistake when writing about head contact. The players are never trying to hit you in the head, if they do, it is normally accidental. Yes a player might get knocked out, but it is not that bad, not as bad as you make out. The player might only ever get knocked out once or twice a year, at the most.
      Most players never get knocked out, some accidentally again, not on purpose.
      Why are you trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Accidents happen, you cant stop 100% no contact to the head, it is impossible.
      The game is very tough, and the major concern for injury is not head contact, it is knee injuries. I cringe more when a players knee bends in a tackle, it sends shivers down my spine.

      • April 9th 2012 @ 11:24am
        Ian said | April 9th 2012 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        oikee, I would think that getting knocked out even once or twice a year is not trivial.

        The point is to minimise the risk of it happening at all. And to the player knocked out, it doesn’t matter one iota whether it is deliberate or accidental. It still hurts and potentially causes damage.

        I don’t see what’s so hard about training players to aim lower, like below the nipple line, to increase their margin for error, rather than aim for the top of the ball.

        I wouldn’t like to ban shoulder charges, but it should be absolutely clear to players and coaches that if they roll the dice by aiming high-ish they take their chances if they miss their intended target and hit the head. And that is backed up by serious bans for forceful head contact, ie 4 weeks plus.

        So yes, it is true you can’t 100% stop head contact, but you can easily do things to minimise the risk.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 7:55am
      Mals said | April 9th 2012 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Oikee, yeah i knew you would think the hit was ok because Teo plays for the Broncos. Knee injuries are not life threatening, head injuries can be.

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      • April 9th 2012 @ 12:03pm
        oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        It has nothing to do with it, i also thought Manu Vatuvai’s shot was also accidental, they both were not attacking the head, it just happened to hit his head on impact, so the blow was softened, this is why Groaty woke up, i have seen proper head-shots, like swinging arms where it is nite nite. These are the ones i dont like, the ones that Jamie Lyons, Matai and others do.
        The T-Rex was a completely different incident, he just wen t-crazy and threw a light weight onto his head, then performed a crusher next tackle, the guy is out of control, i will give it 2 mionths he will be sitting on the sidelines again, if that, he might go off early.
        The Storm game will be the end of Mnaly. 🙂

    • April 9th 2012 @ 8:00am
      steve b said | April 9th 2012 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      I agree with you Luke, its time to get rid of the poor defense for these crazy tackles . oh it was accidental .but their was no malice intended , he fell into it , get rid of them . You can have the big hits without dropping your shoulder into someones head and its not just about the Teo tackle their is at least one a week lately that keeps hitting the headlines. Iits time to see the end of this super dangerous tackle And the b.s defense for them !!!!.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 8:52am
      Al said | April 9th 2012 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      The shoulder charge has been a part of the game since it began. Don’t change the rules. If you don’t like it, watch Rugby Union or AFL. T’eo’s hit was fine in my opinion.

    • Roar Guru

      April 9th 2012 @ 9:18am
      Luke Doherty said | April 9th 2012 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      My point is fellas is that it’s fine if a player wants to pull off the big one but the coach and the player for that matter need to take responsibility when it does go wrong. Too often we get some lame excuse. Not good enough.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 9:30am
      Marlin said | April 9th 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      I am absolutely amazed by some of the commentary around the shoulder charge and Prichard and Teo incidents. In particular those looking to defend those tackles like coaches, wannabe experts on the roar and even players themselves, ” I thought it was a good tackle”…..really, is that why he was out cold before he hit the ground?

      People defending illegal shoulder charges talk up the toughness of the game and how removing it would make it boring. Well let’s give players small crowbars to whack opposition players with, how tough is that!

      I don’t think the shoulder charge should be taken out of the game. Just those poorly executed ones that hit an opponent directly to the head. For performing a tackle like Teo did he should be given his marching orders for the game and spend 4 weeks on the sideline. Players will quickly learn to take more care when affecting that tackle and if they can’t do it properly without taking someone’s head off then not to do it. Plenty of other players seem to be able to execute good strong shoulder charges hitting an opponent on the upper body.

      And for coaches to come out and defend it. That’s almost as big a joke. Your bloke gives away a penalty. The player on the receiving end is out for the game and possibly another couple of weeks. The opposition team is down a player for the rest of the game. Better try and ensure you have your player back on board next week. How’s that even fair.

      Griffin should have said it was a horrible tackle and I’m going to have a word to Ben during the week. If he cant shoulder charge properly then he might have to stop trying.

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      • April 9th 2012 @ 12:20pm
        oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        Again, it was not a illegal shoulder charge.
        And why should we defend our game when a very small percentage get knocked out on purpose. The swinging arm is more dangerous if you ask me.
        Players get knocked out by tackling, for crying out loud, let this go.
        If we ban shoulder charges, we might as well ban the game. Because getting knocked out tackling low will increase knockouts.
        For every action, there is a reaction.
        We have a panel in place to look at these incidents, lets not get excited.
        No, Griffard has said what i would say, it was not intended, it was not that bad. If he had said it was bad, give him 8 weeks, i along with every Bronco fan would want him sacked.

      • April 9th 2012 @ 12:37pm
        steve b said | April 9th 2012 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

        Marlin theres the problem players say they were going for the chest and he fell into it, or he changed direction at the last minute . Because the tackle is normaly done at speed its very difficult to get right every time , thats why i believe take the option out of the game. The penalties dont seem to be working and unless they get real serious and start giving 8 weeks they will still test the water and use these b.s. excuses to try and beat it And your 100% right about coaches coming out and defending it , is an absoulute joke.

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