St George Illawarra captain Ben Hunt believes fatigue is responsible for the spate of high shots that has seen seven judiciary charges against the Dragons in two weeks.
On top of the judiciary woes, the Dragons also had three players ruled out with HIAs during Friday night’s 13-12 loss to Cronulla.
Josh Kerr is set to join suspended trio Josh McGuire, Tyrell Faimaono and Mikaele Ravalawa on the sideline for next Friday night’s clash with Wests Tigers after being charged over a shoulder charge on Sharks prop Aiden Tolman, while Paul Vaughan faces a fine for a high tackle.
Tariq Sims also missed the game against Cronulla while serving a one-match suspension and McGuire received a fine for another charge arising from last weekend’s loss to Melbourne.
Hunt, who has previously raised concerns about the impact of new rules introduced in the last 12 months, said forwards were tiring from defending repeat sets and this was leading to mistimed tackles.
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"You get to tackle three or four and then there is another six again, and then a drop out or something like that," Hunt said.
"You're defending for long periods of time. If you're in a cycle for 10 or 12 minutes and the ball just stays in play, that's where the big boys are pretty tired."
"You can say it's lazy or whatnot, but they are just tired and doing their best to make the tackle and I think that’s why we are seeing more high shots."
NRL head of football Graham Annesley released statistics on Thursday saying they showed players were no more fatigued than they had been two years ago before the rule changes.
However, Hunt agrees with Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson's view that players are more fatigued during sets as they are defending for longer than across the length of a match.
"It's definitely in waves," Hunt said. "The guys who are making the high shots and are fatigued have only played 40 minutes or something like that.
“They’re the big boys that only play 40 minutes every week so they're even more fatigued for the period that they're out there.”
Hunt praised the Dragons for the way they coped with the adversity thrown at them against the Sharks, with fullback Cody Ramsey, winger Max Feagai and prop Jaiyden Hunt all failing HIAs.
Teenage playmaker Talatau Amone started the match in the centres and moved to the wing, while five-eighth Cory Norman played the second half at fullback.
Vaughan even found himself in the centres at one stage as Billy Burns also had to undergo a HIA test.
"I think we have shown a few times this year that we are a pretty brave group and work really hard but we just keep making it hard for ourselves," Hunt said.
"We’re a bit low on troops and there's some young fellows that came in and tried really hard and when guys are making their debut you really want to play well for them and get a win for them.
"We fought really hard and that's what makes it even harder, when you come really close to just miss it.
"If we got that over the line it would have been a magnificent win and we do have to take some positives out of it. When you have guys come in that stand up it is good for the club in the future."