Rugby league legend Andrew Johns has called for the NRL to eradicate dangerous tackles, such as cannonball and hip drop tackles, after two separate incidents sparked heated debate over the weekend.
Canberra Raiders prop Joe Tapine was sin-binned for an alleged punch during Saturday afternoon’s 36-24 victory over the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium.
The 28-year-old was seemingly retaliating after a “cannonball” tackle from Titans hooker Aaron Booth, who had come in around the legs.
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“Joe Tapine must have felt like what he thought was a cannonball (tackle) as Aaron Booth comes in right at the knees,” Fox League commentator Matt Russell said at the time.
“You’ve got to be above the knees — quads or higher.”
Johns also sympathized with Tapine, pleading for the NRL to stamp out crusher tackles and similar offenses.
“When there’s a two-man tackle and there’s no momentum, we have to eradicate the third person coming in,” he told Channel 9’s Sunday Footy Show.
“I can’t blame him for reacting like this.
“If there’s two men in the tackle and they can’t get the player down, then one has to change his technique and go down.
“That third man should not be allowed to come in. It’s dangerous.
“They’re worried about the third man destroying their knees and ankles.”
Later on Saturday, Wests Tigers lock Jackson Hastings was left limping from the field after Brisbane Broncos rival Pat Carrigan performed a hip drop tackle at Suncorp Stadium.
Carrigan, who put his body weight on Hastings’ back ankle, was referred directly to the NRL judiciary after the ugly incident, which left him with a broken fibula.
“I thought the tackle was a pretty ordinary tackle,” Tigers interim coach Brett Kimmorley told reporters in the post-match press conference.
“It is something that has crept into the game a little bit and it needs to be looked after, because it’s a horrendous tackle and the outcome can be really bad.”
However, former Broncos captain Gorden Tallis believed the incident was an accident.
“I didn’t think that tackle was as bad as some I have seen this year,” he told Triple M.
“Are they referring it to the judiciary because they don’t know what to do any more? If Patrick Carrigan does that to me and I am out for the year I am going to be disappointed but I think it’s an accident.
“I didn’t think that tackle was as bad as some I have seen this year. Are they referring it to the judiciary because they don’t know what to do any more? If Patrick Carrigan does that to me and I am out for the year I am going to be disappointed but I think it’s an accident.
“I don’t think it is a fashionable hip drops where you jam your hips and I thought watching it he would have been unlucky to get a week or two.”
Speaking after the 32-18 defeat, Carrigan reiterated that he did not intend to harm Hastings.
“I hope he is alright,” he said.
“It wasn’t intentional. I felt like I hit him a bit higher. I don’t know if I winded him, but I heard him wince and then he fell backwards.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to see anyone get injured, so I hope he’s alright. It is what it is.”
Broncos coach Kevin Walters said: “I don’t know if he snapped his ankle, but it was a heat of the battle thing. Knowing Pat Carrigan and a person of his character, I wouldn’t think it was intentional.”