NRL cracks down on lifting tackles
The NRL has directed the Match Review Committee to take a hard line against players lifting opponents into a "dangerous position" where they could injure their head or neck.
Speaking to the media outside Rugby League Central, Head of Football Todd Greenberg said that starting with this weekend's matches, a defender will be charged for any lifting tackle that places an opponent in a position where they are likely to land on their head or neck - unless they pull out quickly and the player is returned to a safe position.
"If players are put into a dangerous position, dangerous being heading towards the ground with contact that could be head or neck, irrelevant of the outcome, players can expect a charge," said Greenberg.
"If a player is coming down from a dangerous position and by luck rolls out of it or puts his forearm down or rolls out of a tackle, that is not an excuse to get out of a charge.
"Players need to be aware that the onus of responsibility is on them."
The move by the NRL comes after a number of tackles similar to that which injured Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon escaped charge due to a tackled player being able to manoeuvre themselves out of landing on their head or neck, but the new edict on the NRL places the responsibility on the defender to ensure they do not place a player in a dangerous position.
"Over the first six weeks there were a number of tackles that weren't charged that we were unhappy about," said Greenberg.
"When a player is tipped beyond the horizontal being that his head or his neck is below his hips and he's headed towards the ground that is in a dangerous position."
Greenberg said that despite the new hard-line approach, the gradings of dangerous throw charges would not be increased. Currently a Grade 1 Dangerous Throw charge - such as that by Dragons second- rower Joel Thompson on Melbourne's Young Tonumaipea on Monday night - is worth 125 points, reduced to 93 if the player takes an early guilty plea and provided he has no carry-over points on his record.
"No I don't think there's any determination on changing penalties because the penalties that go up from grade to grade, from Grade 1 to Grade 2 go up by 200 points.
"So you'll see players will very quickly understand they're not going to put their opponents in a difficult spot.
"The threshold has been clearly lowered and what you will see is more charges applied for players lifted into a dangerous position.
"The only discretion the Match Review Committee will have is the grading of the charge.
"It is important to stress that the rules have not changed… rather the way in which they are to be applied has been re-emphasised with the Match Review Committee."
Greenberg was adamant the new ruling would not result in lifting tackles going the way of three point tries and contested scrums.
"Lifting tackles in the game are here to stay.
"There are lots of lifting tackles in the game that are clearly safe.
"We're talking about dangerous lifting tackles and players being put into dangerous positions."