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 @ 9:47am
      Roarsome said | April 9th 2012 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      There’s nothing wrong with a fend, angled run or sidestep to avoid getting smashed. The young kid was running straight and hard and was hit hard and flush. I didn’t see his head rock back in the tackle. In fact the sudden stop when the side of Teo’s shoulder hit the chest of the ball carrier, his head rocked forward and hit the corner of teo’s shoulder.

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      • Roar Guru

        April 9th 2012 @ 10:32am
        Luke Doherty said | April 9th 2012 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        But Roarsome the onus isn’t on Groat to sidestep or fend. Te’o has a responsibility to not smack another player in the head. I’m fine with shoulder charges, but If it goes wrong there’s consequences. Coaches don’t seem to realise that.

        • April 9th 2012 @ 2:39pm
          Yeah Sure said | April 9th 2012 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          So are you saying Luke that Te’o was coached to tackle players in the head, that Griffin was actually telling players to go knock there head off. Also, by the sounds of it you think Te’o actually tried to knock the players head off.

          Your seem to be drawing an awful lot of long bows here.

          If Teo thought he was in the postion to make a safe shoulder charge (which is legal by the way), then why would onus be on him to change his tackle?

          Rugby league is a tough game and not every thing goes to plan every single tackle. Some sport writers don’t seem to realise that.

          • April 9th 2012 @ 3:38pm
            oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

            Well put, i was going to reply, you have done it for me, welcome to the roar, your name should be common sense. 😉

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2012 @ 3:43pm
              Luke Doherty said | April 9th 2012 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

              Oikee and Yeah Sure, i’m saying that if Te’o hits someone in the head (like he did) then all involved should say as much. Of course he isn’t coached to hurt someone. I’m not trying to soften the game up. I’m trying to point out that if you do break the rules then there are consequences. It seems the match reviewers agree. 4 matches (possibly a tad tough) but for Griffin and Te’o to say there wasn’t really much in it is a joke.

              • April 9th 2012 @ 3:49pm
                oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                Well i am not laughing, and 4 weeks is a joke when Manu got off for less, and Prithcard got less, and Teo has no record.
                This is B.S.
                Someone has to rewrite the rules of rugby league, nobody knows what is going on, the game is looking like a dogs breakfast.
                That makes me sound drunk, honest, i have only had one beer. Pritchard i meant.

              • April 9th 2012 @ 4:55pm
                Yeah Sure said | April 9th 2012 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

                Thanks for the claification.

                If contact with the head is made then you sould be punnished. But if you do so make it consistant across the board.

                Just hate it shoulder charging is singled out. In the end its just like everything else in Rugby League. When done correctly its a spectacular sight, but when things go wrong people can get hurt.

            • April 9th 2012 @ 4:37pm
              Yeah Sure said | April 9th 2012 @ 4:37pm | ! Report


              Love you’re work too 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2012 @ 7:14pm
                Luke Doherty said | April 9th 2012 @ 7:14pm | ! Report

                All good mate, my pleasure.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 10:45am
      Johnno said | April 9th 2012 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      Thie Craig Wing incident a few years ago was an awful incident on the sport of rugby league. He could of been in a wheelchair.

      Rugby league needs to ban this to coming in from the side, and hitting the player in the back. The missile and prowler basically.
      And thsi new wrestle where 1 players grabs and yanks and jumps on the other players leg is dangerous too.

      For me the key is get tough at the judicary. For what Frank Pritchard did, 8 week ban. Tony williams got 7 thats was good.

      Coz it is great for fans to watch these collisions but long team , rugby league will lose players playing the sport as they will be scared and think it is too dangerous. So rugby league better clean up it;s act.

      And in grand finals, and state or origin too. I would give out 25-week bans for the T-rex tackle vs the sharks. Why coz in grand finals and origins they push it to the edge more and are not worried by small suspensions the next season.
      Example Alastair Lynch in 2004 AFL was retiring he did lots of striking , and got like a record 15 week suspension but didn’t care coz he was retiring. The AFL got tough after this on grand finals and handed out massive fines and suspensions if you push the rules.

      Rugby in the super 15 has got tough, rugby league has to do the same if it wants to keep kids wanting to play the sport.

      Maybe helmets like gird iron are the way, but tough penalites for shoulder charges to the head. And ban the craig wing style prowlers coming in from the side. Rugby has banned the shoulder charge.

      • April 9th 2012 @ 12:34pm
        oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        Gee Whiz, rugby league is tough and you want to make it a game for everyone, even the powderpuffs. Why dont we just take up darts and nobody gets hurt.
        Look, the game is for the toughest athletes, if you want to call them that, we take thugs, brutes, the guy at school who use to bully you, the little guy who called you names and made you run to your mommy, what i dont want to see is play being held up because someone got a nose bleed, please.
        I played when the spear tackle was still legal, and they use to push in the scrum. Those were the days that you were scared to play because it was a tough sport. These days, if you are good enough, you can make it, even little johnny,.
        I already think we have softened the game enough. The other codes have as many incidents, if not more, when they start banning head knocks in there games, we still might not have to worry, because low tackles will increase knockouts.

        Jitter, you talk about Berrick Barnes, yet our smaller players dont often get hurt. Again, head high tackles are illegal, this is what i cant understand, it is not like players are trying to hit head high, we should not have to defend our sport. If they hit high, it goes to the judicary.

        • April 9th 2012 @ 1:07pm
          steve b said | April 9th 2012 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

          oikee ii to played the game for over twenty years and in that time i saw plenty of injurys resulting in good players leaving the game and these guys wern”t powder puffs as you put it . The game has evolved since i played and for the better i feel , we already have enough injurys without purposly adding to them with a mistimed shoulder charge taking someone out of the game its time to take the neanderthal attitude out of the game. So we can can keep as many of our top players on the paddock as we can . If the players could get this tackle right we wouldn”t be talking about it every second week and if the judicary could get right coaches would be telling their players to refrain as you run the chance of getting 8 weeks if you get it wrong . Big hits dont need to be shoulder charges they leave to much to chance .

          • April 9th 2012 @ 3:24pm
            Yeah Sure said | April 9th 2012 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

            So two shoulder charges ended up with players getting knocked out. So tell me Steve, how many other players have been left seeing stars from other inccidents. I bet its a lot more then two.

            So that takes me to my next point. Why aren’t you worried about these other occassions where players get Knocked out? Your argument would be more credible if you spoke up about all incdents that could lead too concussion.

            To take it even futher, a good tackle around the legs could mean a busted knee or leg that could leave a player incapacitated for the rest of there life. Also, should we stop players falling on each others legs cause they might get a compound leg fracture. I mean that inccident looked a lot worse then the shoulder charges in question. Should we get rid of the playing surface too cause that played a part Yow ye’s leg break also.

            Too poke futher holes in your agrument I’ll present Berrick Barnes and Elton Flattley. Both consantly knocked out in a game without shoulder charges. Infact, Berrick recived less concussions when he was playing League. I bet if you compare Union and Legue concussion rates, you wouldn’t see much difference.

            The only way you’re going to get people to stopped being knocked out or injured is if they take ALL contact out of Rugby Leauge. And thats what oikee is trying to get at. People are going to get injured no matter what and and too constantly reduce the present form of the game into somthing that doesn’t ressmble Rugbly League any more is not the answer. I think its not case of being a neanderthal, just a knee jerk reaction by few PC supporters, former players and reporters who have forgot how rough the game can be.

            But I’m willing to change my mine Steve. Just show me where Union has less concusions then League due to banning shoulder charges. If they’re really that bad the stats shouldn’t be that hard to find.

            • April 9th 2012 @ 5:43pm
              steve b said | April 9th 2012 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

              Yes old mate i worry about any head injury. but to my point shoulder charges are meant to do one thing hurt the opponent . And my argument is very credible otherwise it wouldn”t be in the headlines every second week. Myself and a lot of old footy players have been advocating for years to drop the shoulder charge as an option you dont have to shoulder charge to pull of a big hit .And i will never forget how tough the game was .Dropping the shoulder charge will not soften the game any but will lesson the chance of a serious injury.

          • April 9th 2012 @ 3:46pm
            oikee said | April 9th 2012 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

            Yes Steve, this is what i just said mate. The game is now designed to allow for anyone who is good enough to make the big time. Each year not many players have tackles go wrong, and if you count the amount of players who get knocked out going low, i would love to see the statistics on which is more common, yet you are quick to outlaw the accidental shoulder charge, yet the low tackle your happy with. You happy for Dallas Johnson to knock himself rotten every second week, is this what you are saying.
            They have to go high, go hard, if the tackle goes wrong, it is the coach who has to take the hit. Griffard along with every other coach will defend a accidental highshot.
            Again, i repeat, he did not intend to hit him in the chin. Looks like he gets 4 weeks for this.

            • April 9th 2012 @ 4:43pm
              steve b said | April 9th 2012 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

              oikee i have been on the ban the shoulder charge for years .But their all accidental arn”t they, the shoulder charge is designed to hurt your opponent nothing else .And i did have some stats from N.S.W. hospitals on recorded rugby league games accross the country from jnr through to seniior compiled in 1992 they would astound you the figures for head injurys was enormous . Its just not first grade that matter its right across the board of senior players accross Australia .But let me assure its a huge deterent for a lot of country players not to carry on playing because of the chance of serious injury stopping them earning a living just for a game . If the trend continues we loose more and more talented players because the risk is to great of a permanent injury its a tackle that can and has caused severe injury .Yes they can be hurt in lots of other ways and thats the risk they take but shoulder charges are only put on to create hurt and thats it.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 10:47am
      Jitter said | April 9th 2012 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      Ask Berrick Barnes and elton flattley if a few head knocks a season are nothing to worry about!

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      • April 9th 2012 @ 3:45pm
        Yeah Sure said | April 9th 2012 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

        And thats in a game without shoulder chargers.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 11:09am
      Goanajack said | April 9th 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report

      Yes , needs to go as is the gang tackle where 2 players hold the ball carrier and the third takes the legs even if he does it gently but with the legs going one way and the torso the other it is a recipe for disaster.

      • April 9th 2012 @ 12:01pm
        Jeff McGinn said | April 9th 2012 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        to overcome this. refs need to call “held” earlier,, this driving in at the legs is nomally caused by someopne refusing to go down and attempting to get the ball away.. leave this in the game and the leg attack will prevail.

    • April 9th 2012 @ 11:35am
      Roarsome said | April 9th 2012 @ 11:35am | ! Report

      Players don’t aim low for 2 reasons. Firstly, a shot at the ball might dislodge the ball or partly dislodge it so the second tackler can finish the job. Secondly, players quite often fend with forearms which is never penalized so they choose to aim above the centre of gravity and knock the opponent down. The NRL has released a statement saying they’re happy with the shoulder charge.

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    • April 9th 2012 @ 1:27pm
      PK said | April 9th 2012 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

      Let’s do as the Union boys do
      If you tackle without your arms it’s a penalty or 5 minutes in the bin

      Any head injury is potentially dangerous wether that’s now or in 5 yrs time after the player has retired

      It’s dangerous and the only intention is to hurt the opposition

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