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Bird, Myles back tackle crackdown

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Thu, Jan 30, 2014 - 7:00 AM

Titans co-captains Nate Myles and Greg Bird will both attend the junior registration day at Robina Stadium on Saturday. Copyright: Courtesy Titans Media

Titans co-captain Greg Bird insists there is still plenty of toughness in the game at the highest level following recent changes made to rule interpretations regarding dangerous tackles by the NRL.

Twelve months on from the outlawing of the shoulder charge, the NRL have put more specific guidelines in place for referees policing the 'cannonball' tackle while 'crusher' tackles will be more severely dealt with by the match review committee.

Bird and his Titans teammates will be on hand at Robina Stadium on Saturday to assist the Gold Coast Junior Rugby League with their junior registrations for the coming season with youngsters able to run onto the field and participate in coaching clinics with their heroes.

With ever greater emphasis being placed on the image portrayed by NRL games and the attraction for parents to get their kids involved, Bird said he was in favour of any changes made to make the game safer at every level.

"They're making the game safer for the players," said Bird, who got through an opposed session last weekend without any problems with the right elbow that underwent surgery following the World Cup. "Player health is always an issue and they've been cracking down on damage to the head the last couple of years and now it's the 'cannonball' where you're standing in a tackle. You're pretty much defenceless when someone is going to come in from the side and you can't even see it coming.

"I think it's a pretty good move.

"It's still a physical, tough game – you can't take all of the contact out of it, that's the nature of the sport – but I think a few things can be tinkered with a little bit and they've done that this year.

"In terms of junior football, there have always been the rules to keep the junior football safe and the modifications that they make so hopefully you don't have to worry about seeing those kinds of moves in kids' football."

Fellow Gold Coast co-captain Nate Myles also supports the rule changes and believes the game has acted in the appropriate manner in minimising dangerous situations that can occur in a game.

"Definitely in regards to junior football it's a positive," Myles said of the changes, who will be racing the clock to play prior to Round 1 following groin surgery. "The last few years have taken big steps towards being a game for the kids to really flourish in. It's a safety thing with the kids and the Play Safe rules are always there.

"We as role models professional football players need to know that too and at the end of the day it's your body that you throw on the line and we need to look after it.

"There are probably a few [tackles] that scare people depending on the sort of player you are. I don't think the tall blokes like [cannonball] tackles. There's such a large area to target really but I think the game's getting a lot better in terms of patrolling those sorts of things and it will be interesting to see how the first few games go."

In addition to the junior registration, the Titans will host their inaugural Corporate Touch Day with Titans players to join the 16 corporate teams who have already signed up to take part, the two top teams to play off in a grand final at a Titans home game during the season.

Click here for more information on the junior registration day where you can tour the Titans dressing sheds, meet the players and participate in a range of activities.