McGuire admits to playing at the ball

It's a tactic that ultimately changed the game between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers on Thursday night, and Josh McGuire has admitted that it's a ploy he uses regularly to try and force a mistake from the opposition team. 

McGuire strategically swings his arm around the body of an attacker when making a tackle, hoping to knock the ball out of the arms of the ball carrier and force a knock-on. 

It's something that hadn't been overly noticed until the 5th minute of Brisbane's 32-18 win over the Panthers when McGuire made a tackle on Penrith hooker Peter Wallace. 

‌The tackle was made as Wallace was about to score a try, knocking the ball free from Wallace's grasp and into the hands of Panther James Tamou who dove over the line to score what he thought was a try. 

The play was sent to the Bunker as a 'try' but overturned when officials deemed McGuire had no intent to play at the ball when making his tackle. Instead the loss of control from Wallace was called a loose carry that had come into contact with a defender, thus making it a knock-on. 

It was a huge play in the game, with a potential 6-0 lead to Penrith soon a 6-0 deficit when Brisbane scored through Kodi Nikorima five minutes later. 

Panthers officials believe McGuire's tactics resulted in a turnover of possession on four separate occasions during the match, with none more important than the Wallace incident. 

It could explain why Penrith completed at such a poor rate, with Anthony Griffin's men making 17 errors at a completion rate of 62 per cent.

Questioned after the match about the tactic, McGuire tried to talk down its importance. 

"(Knocking the ball out of the tackle) isn't something I really practice," McGuire told Channel Nine. 

"I just try and swing my arm at the ball a little bit and if I can get a loose carry then it's pretty lucky."

These plays were just one aspect of a solid game for McGuire who came head-to-head with Penrith's Trent Merrin – the man picked ahead of him at lock for the Australian Kangaroos in next week's Test match. 

Both played well for their respective sides, with McGuire running for 170m and making 44 tackles, and Merrin running for 142m and scoring a try. 

 


McGuire was full of respect for Merrin when asked about the rivalry, saying the Panthers lock deserved his spot in the Australian side. 

"It wasn't personal. He's a quality football player and deserves his Kangaroos jersey. He played well in the Four Nations (in 2016)," he said.  

"When you go into any game you want to make sure you play better than your opposite number. 

"He played a really good game on Thursday night. I thought he played very well and that he was a bit unlucky with the way the scoreboard went against him, but I thought he played a quality game of football."

McGuire's focus now turns to State of Origin and securing a starting position in Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters's side. 

Before that can happen McGuire will first put his hand up to represent second-tier nation Samoa against England on May 6th.  

After that it will be back to club land to push his case for Maroons selection one final time. 

"I just need to keep playing good footy for the Broncos and hopefully I'll play Origin and play well there. Hopefully after that I'll push for a World Cup spot for the Kangaroos," he said.