NRL face long road as clubs brace for bans

Cronulla caretaker coach Josh Hannay has warned that NRL players need more time to adjust their tackling amid “a perfect recipe for disaster” as five of his men face anxious waits on possible bans.

The Sharks finally ended their six-match losing streak with a 13-12 golden-point win over St George Illawarra on Friday night, but it came at a cost.

Josh Dugan and Mawene Hiroti were both sin-binned over high shots, while Briton Nikora also ended up on report for another high tackle.

In addition, Jayden Brailey and Teig Wilton were referred to the match review committee for crusher tackles, which carry a one-game ban for even the lowest level charge.

The Dragons also face similar issues following on from four bans last week, with Paul Vaughan, Josh Kerr and Poasa Faamausili all potentially in the firing line.

Three players – including the Warriors’ Jazz Tevaga – were also put on report in the NRL’s first game between the Auckland-based club and Wests Tigers.

It came as Hannay warned the game’s crackdown would not come easy, with some reward needed for legs tackles.

“I am not against the crackdown at all. But we also need to understand that players need to be recalibrated in how they tackle,” Hannay said.

“They have been taught for year on year and tackling over the football and trying to stop a player that way.

“It’s a bit of a recipe there for disaster. A faster game, more fatigue.

“And we’re trying to tell players overnight if you tackle high we’re going to punish you harder than we’ve ever punished in the history of the game.

“I agree with the rule but there is going to be some growing pains.”

Hannay also stressed that any next move had to be deeply thought about, given a move to legs tackles without reward would only speed the game up more and create fatigue.

“Lower tackles are going to create an even faster game,” Hannay said.

“We need to be careful about this obsession with the speed of the game. Every action has a reaction.

“And we need to make sure this game doesn’t become a glorified game of touch football.”

Meanwhile, any bans would come at a cruel time for Cronulla, who have continually dealt with high-profile injuries this year.

There is some hope they will have Shaun Johnson back alongside Siosifa Talakai and Ronaldo Mulitalo against Gold Coast, but any bans would almost counteract some of those.

“Footy is funny like that,” Hannay said.

“We were looking forward to getting some players back from injury and they may be coming in for suspended players.”

© AAP 2021