James sorry but won't change his ways
A remorseful Ryan James has spoken out about the tackles that have ended the seasons of James Tedesco and Reagan Campbell-Gillard in recent weeks, insisting he doesn't deserve to be labelled a dirty player.
The Titans prop forward was ultimately found guilty of a grade 1 careless high tackle that broke the jaw of Wests Tigers fullback Tedesco in Round 23 and was not cited for a tackle last weekend on Penrith prop Campbell-Gillard that fractured two vertebrae in his back and ended his season.
James has been unable to get in touch with Campbell-Gillard in the days since but did get in contact with Tedesco to apologise for what he called a terrible accident.
"You feel horrible. Obviously you don't go in there to do that. No one ever intentionally goes in to try and do something like that so you really do feel for them," James said of the damage he has caused over the past three weeks.
"I thought the Tedesco one was extremely unlucky, going for a catch and both dropping and just accidentally caught him. The Campbell-Gillard one was just a normal, regulation tackle.
"You scratch your head and wonder how these things happen but rugby league is one of those games where anything can happen.
"I did manage to get Tedesco's phone number off [Jordan] Rankin but I haven't been able to get Gillard's in any form.
"I was lucky enough that I knew Rankin and he sent it to me the next day and I got in contact with him and it was something that I had to get done.
"Pretty much all you can say is sorry. I didn't mean to do it and that's pretty much all I could say. Hopefully he recovers quick."
Panthers coach Anthony Griffin took the unusual step of contacting a Sydney newspaper to express his displeasure at James's tackle on Campbell-Gillard last Saturday while social media lit up in both instances with fans calling for James to receive hefty suspensions.
The phrase 'dog-shot' was one that was used by a number of people on Twitter after both incidents but James said that he is undeterred by what gets said on social media.
"Obviously you're going to cop a bit of smack but you've just got to take it on the chin," James said.
"People are willing to sit behind the keyboard and say whatever they want but if they're willing to say it to your face it's a different story.
"People can say whatever they want on social media which is probably a bad thing for people in my position but you've just got to look past it and look at the games because their opinion doesn't really matter."
The on-field enforcer that fans see each week is a far cry from the soft-hearted family man who is putty in the hands of long-time partner Ana and their young son Carter.
He set out to curb the ill discipline that saw him claim the mantle as the most penalised player in the competition last season but after a tidier start to the year is now third behind Sharks pair Michael Ennis and James Maloney with 25.
"I look at a couple and some are definite penalties and to get the rub of the green on some others would have been good," said the 24-year-old who has not missed a game this season.
"I've been called offside a couple of times this year where I've looked at it and thought, 'If I was offside I don't know what's onside'.
"Being in and around the ruck and maybe penalised for being to the side, they're tough ones but you take them on the chin. I just need to eliminate the ones that are definite penalties."