Clinton backs NRL's grapple crackdown - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clinton backs NRL's grapple crackdown

By Wayne Heming 19/03/2009 06:40:30 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane Prop Joel Clinton puts himself at risk every time he smashes the ball into the teeth of the oncoming defence.

It goes with the job.

It's like being a jockey or race car driver, it risks serious injury.

The danger side of his profession was rammed home again last weekend with a possible career-threatening neck injury suffered by his former Penrith teammate Ben Ross.

Surgeons who operated on Ross said the 110kg forward, who has played six Origin games for Queensland, came within a "whisker" of being wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life after rupturing a disc during the Sharks' win over Penrith on Saturday night

Clinton said this week it was a chilling reminder to him and every player of what could go wrong in a tackle, even an innocent one.

NRL referees opened the season with a blitz on players tackling opponents around the head and neck.

Clinton hopes they continue their campaign and rid the game of a tackling style which puts combatants at risk of serious injury.

Eight players were charged with varying tackle offences in round one.

Parramatta's Weller Hauraki became the first player to be suspended for a grapple tackle under the NRL's new guidelines introduced specifically to rub out the dangerous tactic which involves a player's head being pulled back and his oxygen supply reduced.

"They are cracking down on it. And so they should," said Clinton when the inevitable "grapple tackle" was raised before Brisbane's clash with Melbourne - the team blamed for introducing the tactic.

"Its not comfortable at all.

"You've only go to look at the incident of the weekend with Benny Ross.

"It wasn't a grapple tackle, but necks are a very fragile thing and you can't be messing around with them.

"I hope they really do crack down on it."

Clinton, who has a point to prove after injury and weight loss combined to undermine his debut season with Brisbane, said the introduction of two referees would help clean up any illegalities in tackles.

He wouldn't comment on how he or teammates might react if subjected to the outlawed grapple tackle on Friday night.

"I can't comment on that, whatever happens out on the field stays on the field.

"The grapple tackle, Melbourne are known to do it but it's none of my business.

"I'll just go out and do what I can do on the field."

Clinton's front-row partner Nick Kenny is long odds to play despite being given until Friday to prove his fitness after suffering a grade one hamstring tear against the Cowboys last weekend when he was outstanding in the opening 20 minutes.

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