A late shot last night on superstar half Cooper Cronk has re-ignited discussion about protecting playmakers by harshly penalising late shots.
For those who missed the incident, Bronco’s big man Tevita Pangai Jr rushed out of the line and hit Cooper Cronk late, in a shot that clearly shook and injured the multiple-time Premiership winner.
To his credit after the game, Cronk brushed it off saying that it was just part of the game. He even said he would happily take those shots to enable his outside backs to find space.
The shot as an incident was shocking. Full force, unsighted impact by a much bigger man against a player who had passed the ball, turned his back and was not braced.
Some fans have said halfbacks have to be willing to cop those blows, but the fact was James Tedesco had already caught the ball before Cronk was floored.
Before accusations fly about me wanting the impact taken out of the game, I am the biggest fan of aggressive hits. That Luke Lewis tackle where he folded Matt Moylan in half ranks for me just as high as any try in terms of rugby league highlights.
What I can’t stand is cheap shots designed to hurt players.
I’m not saying Pangai Jr ran out with the intention to just hurt Cronk but he had ample time to pull out of the impact, or at least minimise it.
A shot gone wrong, on an unsighted player, can be disasterous. You hit a player in the back, you hurt his neck and you’re talking career altering damage.
This morning it was released that Pangai Jr is facing a two-week suspension.
Make no mistake, this isn’t an eye gouge or a neck-targeting grapple tackle, so anyone calling for eight to ten weeks is overreacting, but how he stayed on the park is beyond me.
Michael Jennings hit a falling player on the chin in a tackle by complete accident and was sin binned.
Pangai Jr ran out of the line with intent to hit Cronk late. Again, Tedesco literally had the ball by the Cronk was levelled.
That’s what the sin bin is there for.
Two weeks is about right. I would have opted for three for the simple reason a player copped two weeks just a few years ago for lobbing a water bottle.
It’s worse than that! Three/four weeks would be fair.
For this to be completely rubbed out of the game the sin bin needs to be used.
Suspensions are good but these acts of foul play need to be further penalised in-game to send a message.
Hit a player late, sit down for ten minutes.
I guarantee every coach in the game would blow up deluxe if a player was sat down for ten minutes to put an illegal hit on an opposition halfback.
Concede a penalty in a huge game to rough up the opposition star? Hmm, I’m not so sure.
There will be those in the comments who say I’m over reacting, soft, etc etc. It’s RUGBY LEAGUE!!! The toughest game of all.
It IS the toughest game of all as it stands, we don’t need superstar players missing weeks through injury due to a player running out with the intention to hit a bloke off the ball.
There’s nothing tough about cheap shots.
There’s a Steve Matai hit going around where he levelled a Souths player hitting the ball up. I’ve watched it 30 times. It’s AWESOME!!!
If a player were to be injured in that tackle, all part of the game.
If Cronk was injured last night and forced to miss weeks, then that is an absolute travesty.
Some on social media applauded the shot. They’ll be without one of their best forwards for the next fortnight.
Off-the-ball cheap shots need to be rubbed out of the game. Sin bins need to be insisted upon
Halves Trouble At Red Hill
Brisbane fans were quick to remind new coach Anthony Seibold that he has a youngster named Sean O’Sullivan in the ranks.
The Channel Nine broadcast team said the Broncs halves’ positions should be under scrutiny. I couldn’t agree more.
Anthony Milford is a magical player but he’s on around a million dollars a season. Nikorima is an international pivot and on good money.
Last night the Broncos lacked direction. That’s on the halves.
The combination will be the same next week, as it should be, but questions need to be asked whether or not these two men can lead the Broncos back to the NRL promised land.
O’Sullivan is a supremely talented youngster with the world at his feet. I haven’t seen his 2019 form so I can’t comment but I’d suggest a few below-par performances like last night from the big money halves and questions will be answered.