THE BIG ISSUE: #46

The Big IssueBy STEVE MASCORD

IN last week’s Rugby League Week, Nate Myles raised the spectre of the “prowler” or “cannonball” tackle.

During the round 11 game between his Gold Coast Titans and Parramatta, he had appealed to the referees to do something about the practice. During a remarkably civil on-field debate with rival captain Tim Mannah, it was pointed out that Titans were doing it too.

Myles didn’t want us to make a big deal about the issue in last week’s mag.

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett, on the other hand, clearly wanted to make an issue of the practice when his back rower Alex McKinnon suffered syndesmosis of the ankle, allegedly after a dangerous challenge by South Sydney’s Nathan Peats on Saturday.

It seems a straightforward process to stop a third defender diving at the knees when two others have an attacking player held.

But the bunnies point out that Peats was only tackling around the legs, as players are taught from the age of five. Of course, the legs used to be the first port of call for any tackler in rugby league.

Now, they’re the second or third priority and that’s why we have these injuries.

It’s unrealistic to expect professional players to go back to tackling around the legs but we can encourage referees to keep a look out for a “third man in” diving at the knees and start giving penalties, as happened in the second half of the Mudgee game.

Many readers no doubt oppose the recent mid-season rule changes in the NRL. But if they are concerned with player safety, like this one, are they OK?

.

I’VE been quiet on media access for a while, now haven’t i?

But how is it that you can waltz into a State of Origin team hotel, have 19 minutes with a NSW forward (see Trent Merrin A-List page 12-13) – and a brief chat with another for a news story – and yet that is completely impossible at club level.

There are only 34 Origin players and roughly 450 in the NRL – yet it’s easier to crack it for a chat with an Origin player. Crazy.

The new NRL media guidelines were a step in the right direction but clubs are now just trying to meet quotas, in some extreme cases putting up fringe first graders on weekend mornings at the exact same time as other events in the same city.

The ALRLC desperately needs a co-ordinated media strategy in each city to effectively combat other sports, instead of allowing the current situation where NRL clubs are undercutting each other with chaotic media schedules.

Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK

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