Big shoulders, sore heads ... and the brutality debate rages on
Sat June 30, 2012 9:53am
Two incidents in the Sharks win over Brisbane had the Cronulla coach wondering where officials were drawing the line and raised more questions over leagues crackdown on shoulder charges.
After one of the most brutal contests of the NRL season, it may not have been ideal timing from Shane Flanagan to float the notion that the game was going a bit soft.
But two incidents in his Sharks’ 26-12 win over Brisbane had the Cronulla coach wondering where officials were drawing the line and raised more questions over league’s crackdown on shoulder charges.
Brisbane finished the night with Jack Reed (suspected broken fibula) and Josh Hoffman (concussion) on a list of missing and wounded that added more pain to a side already without seven regulars through Origin.
But Hoffman’s departure in the 21st minute will rekindle debate about the use of the shoulder charge in the game after Wade Graham, who tore through the Broncos like a wrecking ball all night, was put on report for a thundering hit that rocked the Brisbane fullback.
With his side already trailing 16-0, Hoffman was running the ball out of his in-goal when Graham rushed in to clobber him with a shoulder. Hoffman dropped the ball but a Sharks try was disallowed as Graham was penalised and put on report.
The jury was deadlocked on the issue last night. Flanagan claimed the tackle was a classic front-on hit that simply left Hoffman worse for wear. Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said it was a cut-and-dry penalty.
In either case, Graham will have a case to answer this week and the place of the shoulder charge in rugby league will be further analysed. Given the growing bank of knowledge on the long-term dangers of concussions, it could become extinct within a few seasons.