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NRL crack down on wrestling

16/03/2009 08:08:03 PM Comments (0)

NRL players have been put on notice that they're on a short leash in 2009 after the match review committee laid nine charges on Monday, five of them for wrestling.

Melbourne's Jeff Lima, Parramatta pair Weller Hauraki and Nathan Hindmarsh and Penrith duo Trent Waterhouse and Michael Jennings were the first players slapped with the new charge of dangerous contact.

Manly's Matt Ballin (striking), Newcastle's Kurt Gidley (striking), Bulldog John Kite (contrary conduct) and North Queensland's Manase Manuokafoa (dangerous contact with a kicker) were the other players hit with charges.

Of the five players charged with wrestling, only Hauraki faces a ban, for a grade two offence, as the other four are able to escape with just 75 carry-over points with early guilty pleas.

Match review committee chairman Greg McCallum said the panel had set a new precedent under the refined guidelines for grapples after a few years of confusion as the rules "chopped and changed" and decisions were made on the run.

"The match review committee has been left in no doubt as to what the league wants," said McCallum.

"We've spent seven-and-a-half hours today and the majority of it on wrestling tackles.

"We've been charged with a responsibility of creating a new benchmark and that's what we've done today.

"We're satisfied with the ones that were charged setting the benchmark for the remainder of the season and onwards."

Hauraki and Jennings were charged for unnecessary head or neck contact while Lima, Hindmarsh and Waterhouse were charged for 'chicken wing' style tackles by applying unnecessary pressure to the arm or shoulder.

The panel reviewed 24 cases of wrestling from the seven games over the weekend.

Of the five players charged only two, Hauraki and Lima, were penalised by the referees during the game.

Despite missing the other three incidents, McCallum claimed the new dual referee system had been a success identifying wrestling tackles, and praised the officials for cracking down as the code had promised.

"There was some really good pieces of refereeing where these sorts of tackles were identified and that was positive," he said.

"(We) are here to dictate to referees that they should penalise more or penalise less.

"We've got the benefit of getting extra angles, as we did in Nathan Hindmarsh's case. We have a lot easier job on a Monday to analyse a tackle than a referee does on the weekend.

"What was really encouraging was the fact the second referee on a number of occasions picked up this sort of activity.

"I think it's going to be an important part in eradicating the grapple tackle out of the game."

NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said he was happy with the precedent set after the opening round of games.

"We would clearly prefer there was no instances of these types of tackles at all in the game," he said.

"The game sent a united message during the off-season that they wanted a crackdown on it."

Cowboys forward Manuokafoa faces a two-game ban for dangerous contact with a kicker in the loss to Brisbane last Friday.

Manly's Ballin and Newcastle captain Gidley were hit with grade one striking charges while Bulldog Kite was handed a grade one contrary conduct charge.

All three can escape suspension with an early guilty plea.

Ballin was charged for a punch and lucky to escape a more serious kneeing charge after the panel deemed his raised leg did not make "significant contact" with Bulldog Ben Roberts.

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