Warriors split on shoulder charge rule change

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012
Manu Vatuvei
Photosport
MANU VATUVEI: "Hopefully all the players can stand up and hopefully get it [ the shoulder charge] back into the game."

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During a week in which the shoulder charge has been banned from the NRL, Warriors coach Matt Elliott says rugby league should brace itself for more changes.

The Australian Rugby League Commission has created outrage with the announcement that the highlights-handy tackling method will be axed due to player welfare concerns.

While admitting he would miss the "spectacular" nature of the play, Elliott said people shouldn't lament the end of the shoulder charge, and hinted that further changes might be just around the corner.

"I understand the decision," the former Raiders and Panthers boss said.

"As a footy fan, I'll miss the shoulder charge because it's a spectacular play.

"But as a footy coach, it's not something you'd ever coach. It's a low percentage play, [and] it's not an effective play, even though it looks good.

"We've got a duty of care for our players and we've also got a responsibility to parents who have got their kids playing to make sure we've got as safe an environment as possible.

"I don't think there's any use in regreting the decision - the decision's made."

With former Warriors coach Daniel Anderson recently appointed the new NRL referees coach, Elliott said more changes might be on the way for the NRL - starting with changes in governing ruck speed after a tackle.

"It's interesting. The other changes we will see will be subtle, because we've got a new referees' boss," he said.

"The biggest thing in the game is ruck speed. Of course, the ruck speed has slowed down a bit over two years, so the grinding teams came to the fore.

"It will be interesting on Daniel's application of the rules, and how he coaches the refs impacts that."

One change Elliott would like to see was miked-up NRL referees, whose in-game decisions were broadcast at the game, as with the NFL in the United States. "When they want to explain a situation, they turn the mike on, and on the walk into a scrum [say]: that was a knock-on or that penalty is for this," Elliott said.

"The refs are scrutinised for everything they say [and] they don't get an opportunity to manage the game.

"If refs could do that on the way to a scrum, or a penalty, that would be great.

"I just think they are scrutinised, and perhaps over-coached, for all the right reasons. They looked tight last year - they looked scared to make decisions."

Warriors players have expressed their disappointment the shoulder charge would be dropped from the game.

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Giant winger Manu Vatuvei said players were prepared for the potential danger of the tackle, and that a better approach by the NRL would be harsher penalties on those who did them poorly.

"I'm disappointed it's been taken out of the game," Vatuvei said.

"What I think is that's what everyone likes to see. We know that when we go on the field, anything could happen.

"Injuries and all those sort of things can come off that.

"If someone does a careless tackle, you suspend them for a long period of time.

"That's what they deserve.

"That's just my opinion but hopefully all the players can stand up and hopefully get it back into the game."

Prop Ben Matulino, the Warriors biggest weapon when it has come to the shoulder charge in recent years, was a little more circumspect.

"I'm pretty angry to see it go but I can't really change anything about it," he said. "You've just got to adapt to it."

- Waikato

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