A number of incidents of foul play over the past few weeks have got me thinking about whether we’ve got the punishments correct at the moment when it comes to sending a player off or leaving them on the field.
Nobody wants to see a player sent from the field because it can have a serious impact on the result of a game but from what I can see more needs to be done to protect our players against instances of foul play. For this reason, I believe any illegal play that impacts upon a player or a game should result in a dismissal. If it’s a head-high tackle and somebody is taken out of the game, then the perpetrator has to go as well. Any sort of foul play that impacts upon the other team should be a send-off offence. And any action that could potentially seriously injury a player should come into that send-off category.
Leading the way is the spear tackle, which attracted some attention a few weeks back when Manly’s Richie Fa’aoso stayed on the field despite twice putting Greg Inglis on his head.
As a game, we have to draw the line. A spear tackle can be life-changing to a player, especially when they are tipped on their head. It should be clear straight away that as soon as you’re in a position of lifting a player up, if they land on their head you’re gone. Surely that would send a clear message to players that it won’t be accepted.
I appreciate that sometimes those types of tackles can be made to look worse when there is a second person in the tackle but for someone like Richie Fa’aoso who committed the offence not once but twice, the message has to be sent in that instance.
If we start to send players off for dumping an opponent on their head I have no doubt you would see a lot of players changing the way they play. When they started to pick a player up they would know straight away that if they drift past the horizontal they are in trouble. That makes players think twice about tackling in that style.
I know from experience that when you tackle aggressively and lift a player up, you can tell straight away where a player is going to be landing. You can feel the momentum shift and what direction he is headed in. When you have a guy’s legs off the ground, you know that if you continue to lift he is going to tip awkwardly. Players should know that if they lift, they need to pull out straight away.
I realise that can be hard when it’s happening at speed and other players are involved in the tackle but if you set a send-off as the standard you will get a lot more players moving away from the lifting style. There should be more focus on trying to correct players’ techniques so that they don’t get into that dangerous territory.
This week we celebrate Women in League Round and I thought it would only be right for me to pay tribute to the women who have had such a big impact upon my life and career – namely my Mum, Tima, and my wife, Bonnie.
My Mum was a single parent so as I started to develop and progress through the grades as a junior, the requirements financially became greater. Mum worked as a cleaner at Redcliffe Hospital and she would pick up some extra shifts to find the money to help me on my way. That influence she had on my career has always been very important to me.
My wife is the same. We grew up together and she has been a part of my whole journey right from Under-16s when we first met through to today, back playing for Redcliffe. I’ve been very fortunate to have two ladies like that standing beside me through the good times and the bad.
I would also like to pay credit to all the amazing women at my local club. It’s incredible to think that we still have the same women working in the canteen at Redcliffe that were there when I was a junior there! When I was at the Broncos I would come along and sit on the hill to watch Redcliffe play and I’d see the ladies working there. They would tell me old stories about when I was coming through the grades. You see them now and think about all the generations of players that have come through the club and that they’ve been there to watch it all. They sell raffle tickets, raise funds, help with the BBQ – whatever needs doing they do it and I’m very grateful for their support.
These women have just as much passion for our game and our club as we do and you see that at clubs all around the country. They all play their part in making our game great so it is important that we take the time to recognise that contribution this week.