Players up in arms over shoulder charge ban

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 07:34 21/11/2012
Robbie Farah
Getty Images
ROBBIE FARAH: Has called for a review of the decision.

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Angry NRL stars have hit out at a proposed worldwide ban on shoulder charges, with Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah calling for a review of the decision.

After outlawing the controversial tackling technique at an ARLC meeting on Tuesday, officials revealed they had already been in contact with their counterparts in England and other countries in an attempt to have the shoulder charge banned from all levels of the game next year.

But players and fans launched an immediate campaign against the ruling, with NRL stars taking to Twitter to condemn the decision.

''They will ban tackling next,'' Parramatta's Jarryd Hayne tweeted.

Many players complained that an element of the game that made league unique would now be lost.

''There's nothing better than seeing someone get smashed by a shoulder charge. What a joke,'' Tigers prop Aaron Woods tweeted.

New Roosters five-eighth James Maloney described the ban as the ''worst decision ever made'', while teammate Frank-Paul Nuuausala tweeted: ''Might as well play uppercut yourself. Gonna play soccer now.''

NSW and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen said he was in ''shock'' and noted that most of the highlights reel shown at this year's grand final breakfast featured shoulder charges.

''We don't want players getting hurt, but it's taking some of the toughness out of the game,'' Gallen told Triple M. ''When you have a look at the highlight reels they're all big hits, the fans love shoulder charges.''

Farah told the radio station he wanted the decision overturned. ''It's a bit surprising. I think it should still be a part of our game,'' he said. ''When executed correctly, they're a crowd pleaser; they love it. Your own teammates get a lift.

''I'd like to see it reviewed somewhere down the track and maybe bring it back in some time.''

However, Sydney Roosters doctor John Orchard applauded the ARLC for the ruling.

''Given the concussions this year, it was good management to act to make game safer,'' he said on Twitter. ''If the NRL players wanted to keep the shoulder charge, they needed to ALL stop hitting others in the head. 2012 - too many of them went high.''

A review overseen by Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan found there had been 71 shoulder charges last season - of which 12 had resulted in the player making contact with the ball carrier's head.

Coincidentally, the Roosters have signed Sonny Bill Williams, considered the best exponent of the tactic before his departure to rugby union in 2008, and he recently said the shoulder charge wasn't a problem if executed correctly.

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Warriors fullback Omar Slaimankhel tweeted: ''The hitman @SonnyBWilliams is back in the NRL and they have already banned the shoulder charge. Not cool.''

Canavan's report said shoulder charges made up 0.05 per cent of the 142,355 tackles this year and less than 4 per cent of those resulted in injury to the attacking player, but with the average player now four kilograms heavier and 12 millimetres taller than a decade ago the injury risk was high.

The report also found the average G-force of the shoulder charge (measured from accelerometer data taken from GPS tracking) was 76 per cent greater than a conventional head-on tackle (10.682 compared with 6.056).

''We believe this is the time to eliminate a potential risk,'' NRL interim chief Shane Mattiske said.

SHOULDER ARMS ...

''Worst decision ever made ... BANNING THE SHOULDER CHARGE ... if u don't like the contact sport we play ... maybe MARBLES would be more up Ur alley.'' James Maloney (Roosters)

''If the shoulder charge is taken out of the game. We should just play soccer this is a joke. Don't like it don't play the sport.'' Josh McGuire (Broncos)

''Almost 100% sure that 100% of the players were happy with how the rules were! #whatsdoing???'' Wade Graham (Sharks)

''What d hell,just heard d news about the shoulder charge band.R u serious?Thats wat makes out game more entertaining.'' #SAVETHESHOULDERCHARGE Krisnan Inu (Bulldogs)

''No tackling will be next.'' Jarryd Hayne (Eels)

''There was no better feeling getting shoulder charged first run of the game! Sad day for rugby league!'' Bryce Gibbs (Sharks)

''Is it just me or does it seem like we are doing everything we can to wreck the #greatestgameofall.'' Luke Patten (retired)

''Can we also play with a spherical ball?'' Sam Burgess (Rabbitohs)

''They should ban the ball from rugby league! And play with a fluffy Teddy bear! #whatsdoing.'' Josh Cordoba (Broncos)

''In the famous words of  Tana Umaga, this is Rugby (League) not tiddily winks.'' Adam Henry (Roosters)

''Not fussed by its extinction but an SBW game now might be like going to a PSY concert with no Gangnum!'' Joel Caine (retired)

- Sydney Morning Herald

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