In the wake of the terrible tragedy to befall Newcastle Knights players Alex McKinnon, the NRL has dramatically reacted, implementing tough new laws to crack down on any dangerous lifting tackles. NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg has issued a statement to all clubs with a new tough policy that will come in to effect from Round 7.
“Any player who lifts an opponent into a ‘dangerous position,’ where they could injure their head or neck, will be punished.”
This comes after there was outcry from clubs and the public for apparent double standards concerning lifting tackles. Melbourne Storm player Jordan McLean, for his involvement in the tackle which has severely injured Alex McKinnon, received seven weeks suspension, three for the tackle, and four for the extent of McKinnon’s injury. In comparison, the week after, there was outrage when the Gold Coast’s Beau Falloon and St George Illawarra’s Joel Thompson were not charged over tackles, which looked sickeningly similar to the McKinnon tackle.
In his statement, Greenberg has lowered the threshold for charging players involved in lifting tackles but refused to admit the Match Review Committee got the call wrong concerning Falloon and Thompson. He also conceded that under the new rules, the other players involved in the McKinnon tackle, Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, would have been charged, not just McLean as happened.
This doesn’t mean that lifting tackles are being banned from the game. “Lifting tackles in the game are here to stay,” said Greenberg, “We are talking about dangerous lifting tackles and players being put in dangerous positions.”