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Last week Ben Matulino became one of the first players to be punished under the NRL's new shoulder charge interpretation, and according to teammate Ryan Hoffman, the decision was fair enough.


The Kiwi international took an early guilty plea on his grade two charge for a tackle on Gareth Widdop during last week's 36-0 defeat to the Dragons, sparking fresh debate about fitting punishments for such tackles.

But mid-week Hoffman told media that the ban was in place for good reason, and players know the consequences when things go wrong.

"The timing wasn’t great with all of the media attention it got last week," Hoffman said.

"But the fact of the matter is we can't do it anymore, we can't do it.

"Shoulder charges are banned, they are banned for a reason and I think it's a very, very good reason, especially when we see what has happened to a couple of individuals in rugby league over the past 12 months.

"You have just got to go back to that James Ackerman thing, I mean that’s an absolute tragedy in rugby league and that's the reason why we have the shoulder charge ban in place.

"But I know Ben knows now that it just can't be done. And I think the whole rugby league community needs to know that we can't shoulder charge anymore. There is a good reason for it.

"We have been told the rules, the rules are in place and we have got to abide by them, whether we agree with them or not."

Now in his 13th year of a career which has seen him represent his state and country, as well as play in the UK Super League, Hoffman scoffed at suggestions the game was going soft with more severe penalties for shoulder charges.

"I reckon that's a ridiculous statement," Hoffman said.

"We play a very tough and physical game, and I am sure if anyone wants to go out there and pull the jersey on and have a go this week against Penrith they are going to realise just how physical rugby league actually is.

"You don’t need shoulder charges to have that physicality."

Meanwhile Warriors coach Andrew McFadden said Matulino's suspension was just another blow to his side, who are already critically low on experienced players.

"It will be a big loss, we are already down on experience and we lost Manu [Vatuvei] and Ben on the weekend," he said.

"We are lucky enough to get Ryan Hoffman back for this week, but unfortunately we haven’t been losing players to long-term injuries who are on the young side, we have been losing our experienced players.

"We weren’t going to get [Matulino] off in the current climate and to downgrade it was a big risk, because otherwise [if not successful] he'd have to miss five weeks. [Fighting the charge] wasn’t really an option for us.

"I don't agree with it, but that's what we are dealt with.

"Certainly for Ben he has had that type of contact in his game for years, but we haven’t seen it at all this year."

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