ALEX HEINKE reports.
Australian captain Cameron Smith has slammed critics of the new shoulder charge laws reminding players what’s at stake.
Smith wants tacklers to “pull there head in”, as the NRL cited nine players in a fortnight under the new and tougher shoulder charge laws.
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Legendary half-back Andrew Johns on Monday night poured fuel on the fire when he said the game’s governing body was “lost” and their efforts to rub out the technique had been an “absolute debacle”.
South Sydney stars Issac Luke and Luke Keary and Sydney Roosters’ representative back-rower Aidan Guerra were among six players cited for shoulder charges over the weekend’s fixtures with Smith standing by the new laws and delivering a sobering reminder of what was at risk.
In June, Queensland Cup player James Ackerman was killed after being hit with a shoulder charge while playing for the Sunshine Coast.
The father of two’s death had a deep impact at the Storm, who share a feeder arrangement with the Sunshine Coast, and many Melbourne squad members knew Ackerman.
While Smith did not comment on any of the six charges over the weekend, he said the shoulder charge needed to be eradicated from the game.
“I think the NRL are making a stance on tackles that can be quite dangerous,” Smith said.
“I know there’s a lot of debate about the shoulder charge and whether it is dangerous or whether it’s not. To me it’s pretty clear cut.
“A footballer lost his life as a direct result of a shoulder charge. So if there’s six incidents in those six charges over the weekend, players have got to get it through their heads that they can’t put that tackle on. Simple as that.”