Death knell for shoulder charge

Greg Inglis of the Rabittohs is put on report for his tackle on Dean Young of the Dragons during the round 20 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on July 21, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.
Greg Inglis of the Rabittohs is put on report for his tackle on Dean Young of the Dragons during the round 20 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons at ANZ Stadium on July 21, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Nolan - Getty Images

THAT NRL players - almost in chorus - are against banning the shoulder charge from rugby league comes as no surprise to me.

While skilful hands and nimble feet are the traits that will usually decide a close contest and enthral the general populous, the big hits are what gets the adrenalin pumping. Rugby league is, after all, a sport based on the collision of bodies.

In the debate, I am yet to hear a player call for the shoulder charge to be outlawed. But plenty have weighed in with their call for it to stay as part of the game.

During the week, I watched Titans players Mark Minichiello and Greg Bird in TV interviews commenting on the subject. Both had glints in their eyes when they spoke about the toughness of the game and how the aggression of the tackling separated rugby league from the other football codes.

Players these days are fitter, stronger and more durable than ever. They live in the gym, and love how those constant workouts transform their strength, their bodies and - consequently - their self-belief.

In a nutshell, they love the collisions. And the bigger and more spectacular, the better.

But my gut feeling is what the players want won't matter. The Greg Inglis/Dean Young incident last weekend has almost certainly signalled the death knell of the shoulder charge in the game.

I'm not sure whether it is my imagination or if I'm just getting old and more conservative, but the incidence of shoulder charges seems to have increased of late and those who are connecting have taken on the look of weaponry. The Inglis hit was as brutal as I have seen, although Sam Burgess smashed Knights rookie Kyle O'Donnell a few weeks ago with the ferocity of a bus at full speed.

On one hand it surprises me that players are prepared to play Russian roulette, knowing full well that the inevitable will happen and it may well be them who are seriously injured. But then, they do believe they are bulletproof.

Under David Gallop, the NRL was accused of being reactionary. Those administering our game often waited until the horse had bolted.

I believe I speak for the majority of fans when I say we can only hope that the new regime jumps on the front foot before someone becomes wheelchair dependent, or worse. As former PM Gough Whitlam most famously spruiked, it's time.


Joey plays it straight

NOT that there is any great hurry, but the Blues remain in a state of flux over their Origin coach for next year, and not because it is viewed as a poisoned chalice.

With Ricky Stuart to be confirmed as Eels coach later today and adamant he will not serve two masters, NSW is looking for its fourth coach since the beginning of Queensland's "seven-peat" under Mal Meninga. And whoever takes the gig inherits big shoes.

A myriad of names have been tossed around - Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler, Trent Barrett and Jim Dymock among them. But a certain non-starter is Andrew Johns who - to his credit - says he does not want or need the pressure of coaching Origin.

Johns - who suffered a well-documented bout with depression - admitted the burden of Origin as a player was something he also found difficult to handle.

Many good judges believe Johns would make a masterful rugby league coach, but it seems we might never know.


Broncos left on outer

THAT aura of invincibility so often associated with the Broncos has evaporated, if this week's annual Rugby League Week Player's Poll is a yardstick.

Despite having seven players in State of Origin this year, only one Broncos player - Sam Thaiday - made the RLW Dream Team, as selected by the players. And just two, Justin Hodges and Petero Civoniceva, figured in the top-three positional voting results.

It is the Broncos' equal worst representation in its 25-year history. Last year they had four players in the team - Thaiday, Hodges, Jharal Yow Yeh and Darren Lockyer.

Surprisingly, though while the players did not particularly rate the Broncos as individuals this year, they did as a team.

The Broncos were voted third favourite, behind the Bulldogs and Storm, to win the premiership.

Topics:  dean young greg inglis nrl

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