Souths captain Cameron Murray has assured Manly’s Karl Lawton that there are no hard feelings over the ugly tackle that NRL head of football Graham Annesley insists left match officials with little choice but to send him off.
Lawton, who was sent off in the eighth minute of last Friday night’s 40-22 loss at Central Coast Stadium and suspended for four matches, reached out to Murray to apologise for the lifting tackle.
The Rabbitohs lock revealed that his partner had been “scared” for his welfare after the tackle and admitted that he could have been seriously injured if he hadn’t instinctively spun his body to avoid landing on his head or neck.
However, he told Lawton that all was forgiven and didn’t want to see him serve a lengthy suspension for the tackle.
“He messaged me, he said he felt really bad and just apologised,” Murray said. “He said he didn’t get a chance after the game to come up to me and say sorry.
“It was nice, and I just reassured him that accidents happen, and I know he didn’t do it on purpose. I appreciate the message and I just said I hope he gets back on the footy field soon.”
Murray said his partner had been upset and messaged him during the game to check if he was okay but managed to avoid any injury and played on, scoring a try as the Rabbitohs overcame a brave 12-man Sea Eagles outfit.
“My partner was a little bit scared, but I just reassured her after I came off that everything was all good,” Murray said. “Because she wasn’t watching and she got messages off people she got a bit scared.
“I didn’t get a message from mum or dad. They saw me finish the match so must have thought I was sweet. I’m just lucky I grew up playing the sport, so I was able to spin at the last moment.”
Annesley said there was little doubt the tackle warranted a send-off and Lawton has accepted a four-match ban by pleading guilty to a grade three dangerous throw.
“I think it was quite an easy call for the match officials to make because he was the only player involved in the tackle,” Annesley said of the send-off.
“They had the opportunity to view a replay of the incident and they made a call that it was a dangerous throw, and it was serious enough that Karl should be dismissed from the field.
“There is no doubt that he didn’t intend for that tackle to end the way it did but it has the potential for catastrophic outcomes."
Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 8
The NRL head of football said the difference between Lawton’s offence and a lifting tackle by Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton in Saturday’s 21-20 loss to the Warriors was that Raiders team-mate Hudson Young was also involved.
“If Jack loses control because of the contribution of another player, there is only one way a player is going to go and that is upside down,” Annesley said.
“We don’t want to see any of those sort of tackles repeated in our game. Whether they are accidental or whether it is careless, reckless or intentional, we have got a responsibility to try and make sure there is a sufficient disincentive for them not to happen."
Murray agreed but expressed sympathy for Lawton over his four-match suspension.
“I understand how bad he is probably feeling so as awkward as it unfolded, I can look at it from his perspective and I know it was an accident and the good thing is that I walked away from it,” he said.
“I know people have got themselves into that position and haven’t been as fortunate as me. There have been some tragic circumstances so I understand the seriousness of the situation.
“But from a player’s point of view you can look at it from an empathetic position. There are no hard feelings at all. I understand why that type of tackle or similar tackles aren’t tolerated. It was just lucky.”