Merritt charged for feet-first tackle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Merritt charged for feet-first tackle

23/03/2009 07:38:38 PM Comments (0)

The NRL is slowly winning the war on the grapple tackle with the match review committee reporting a "noticeable" decrease in incidents over round two of the competition.

The panel charged only three players for dangerous contact tackles on Monday, down from five last week, with South Sydney's Nathan Merritt also charged for leading with his feet.

Brisbane's Justin Hodges and Melbourne's Willie Isa both face a one-match bans for grade one grapple tackles because they both have prior offences and carryover points.

Penrith's Gavin Cooper copped a grade two grapple tackle charge and although he faces two weeks out, he can reduce the ban to one week with an early guilty plea.

Match review chairman Greg McCallum said it was "promising" signs that there were less incidents to review this week as opposed to the opening round.

"It was noticeable in that there was less to look at," said McCallum.

"There was a genuine attempt I think by players to stay away from the head.

"It made the ones that didn't stand out pretty clearly.

"It's not going to disappear in one week. It's been something that has been engrained in the game too long.

"It will take a few weeks but I'm confident that the committee is very focused on playing its role, the clubs and the players are starting to realise that we want to get rid of it."

Another tactic high on the 'eradicate from the game' agenda is players attempting to stop a try with their feet.

Merritt unsuccessfully tried to stop Parramatta's Joel Reddy from scoring the match-winner last Friday night and now faces a one-week suspension, two weeks if he fights the charge and loses at the judiciary.

He was cautioned for the incident but referees' boss Robert Finch admitted the Eels should have received an eight-point try.

It is the first time a player has been charged for the tactic, used repeatedly by Melbourne's Billy Slater in 2008.

Slater's use of the move in the grand final and again in the World Cup prompted the game's international governing body to outlaw it.

"That is now a no-go zone for players," said McCallum.

"Players have flirted with it over the years by basically trying to kick the ball out of an opponent's hands or trying to knock the ball loose.

"But Billy Slater the other night did it brilliantly where he used his hip and came across and stopped a try. He used his back and hip to bump Israel Folau into touch.

"Obviously trying to kick the ball out is probably the thing that flashes across their minds first but it's just too dangerous.

"You cannot have players boots and players heads close together."

Meanwhile, McCallum said the panel would take fresh concerns to the referees' boss Robert Finch about the growing number of off-the-ball incidents.

McCallum said there were several late shots on players after they had passed the ball that referees should keep an eye on.

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