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Inside this week's issue of Big League magazine...
WHEN Knights prop Kade Snowden was charged with a Grade 4 shoulder charge by the match review committee on Monday, social media did what it does best; provided an open forum for polarising opinions on whether the punishment fit the crime.

Many argued as to why other similar incidents had not been treated so severely while others championed the stance of the match officials who decided that making contact with the head of Cowboys hooker Ray Thompson was a send-off offence.

Personally, I didn’t believe there was the type of malice that other shoulder charges have displayed throughout the season but then a new post popped up in our Twitter feed. It was from Ray Thompson himself, thanking supporters for the “support and well wishes I have received. It’s been overwhelming & much appreciated! Surgery went well & now on the road to recovery!” There was a photo attached. The photo showed Thompson in his hospital bed with a bandage circling his entire head, holding his broken jaw in place.

It was sickening to see Thompson hold his jaw on the field immediately after the incident but I’m still not sure it wasn’t much more than a horrible accident in a body contact sport. Which begs the question: Should the extent of the injury influence the severity of the punishment? The sentence for attempted murder is much less than murder, so perhaps we should take into account the damage done before dishing out justice.

Thompson’s season is now over just as he found the best way to contribute to a successful winning run for his team. He also faces an uncertain start to his 2014 pre-season, not to mention weeks of extreme discomfort and not being able to eat much more than protein shakes and soup as he recovers.
I have no doubt Snowden feels terrible for the injuries he caused so perhaps in this instance the punishment does indeed fit the crime.

 We’re planning a special tribute to the retirees of 2013 next week and with each round that passes our list of honourees grows longer and longer.

A few weeks ago the only confirmed departures were Joe Galuvao, Corey Payne, Steve Turner, Ashley Graham and Danny Buderus but since then they have been joined by Scott Prince, Matt King, Matt Cooper, Nathan Fien, Jason Ryles, Brett Finch, Dallas Johnson, Clint Greenshields and Luke O’Dwyer, and we believe there are more to come.

Those named above have to date played a combined tally of 2,818 NRL games and their experience of what it takes to be a regular contributor to an NRL team will not be easy to replace.

Perhaps coaches are beginning to outline their plans for the 2014 pre-season and old heads such as Prince and King decided this week that they weren’t prepared to put themselves through that torture again.

Can’t say I blame them, but merely thank them for the service they have given and sacrifices they have made.

Big League
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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