The NRL has been accused of a soft stance on hip-drop tackles which has allowed the ugly manoeuvre to stay in the game, while the Broncos have been revealed as the worst offenders.
The controversial tackle was came to light last week with Broncos star Patrick Carrigan copping a four-week ban for a hip-drop his tackle that broke the leg of Wests Tigers star Jackson Hastings.
Eels winger Haze Dunster was on the receiving end of a hip-drop tackle in the club’s first trial, resulting in a torn ACL, PCL and MCL.
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Those incident have brought plenty of attention to the tackle this season but Phil Rothfield revealed it has been prominent – and largely unpunished – for years.
“I went back over the last four years and people who think it’s a recent problem in the game should have a look at this story because there’s actually been 42 hip-drop charges and players found guilty in the last four years,” Rothfield told Sky Racing’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“It’s really interesting commentary on this one simply last week after Jackson Hastings broke his leg in the tackle by Patrick Carrigan as though it was a recent problem in the game, Haze Dunster was obviously hurt badly earlier in the season.
“Of those 42 players – a really bad tackle that has been in the game now as I’ve said for three or four years – 21 of the players who made those tackles were not suspended.
“So I think the NRL only has itself to blame for this, for not taking appropriate action in the past and allowing it to creep into the game.
“Another 11 players out of 21 who weren’t punished, only 11 players were suspended for one week.
“There’s only been three or four heavy charges of four or five weeks for an issue now everyone is talking about, an issue that has sidelined players for months and months and I think it’s long overdue that the NRL can now treat it as seriously as it should.
“The other interesting point I found is that people as per usual whenever there’s foul play in rugby league want to blame the Melbourne Storm, Craig Bellamy, Cameron Smith they invented all sort of thing.”
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Rothfield revealed the Broncos as the worst offenders of hip-drop tackles but coach Kevin Walters insisted it isn’t something players train.
“It’s really interesting the Broncos are by far the worst defenders,” he said.
“Since 2019, eight Broncos players have been guilty of the hip-drop tackle, now I spoke to Kev Walters yesterday and look I believe Kev it’s just a statistic that certainly he was unaware of, he insists they don’t train for it they’ve got a wrestling coach like everyone else has.
“He thinks one of the reason they’ve struggled in recent weeks is that they don’t wrestle as well as some of the other clubs in the NRL.
“It’s a fact of life you’ve got to be good wrestlers to win premierships, I think it’s a really interesting story that’s been around for so long.”
Rothfield believes if the NRL wants it out of the game they should handle the issue the same as high tackles.
“Well I think you look at the Haze Dunster injury where he broke his leg and was sidelined for the season Laurie at the beginning of the year, sort of put it back on the map,” Rothfield said.
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“When it happened to Jackson Hastings last week then put him out for the season, it then started getting a lot more media coverage.
“What all those photos, I presume you looked at the Telegraph today there’s photo after photo of these tackles being made and it’s like anything there’s evidence that only adequate punishment will drive behavioural change in rugby league.
“There’s too many high tackles so they had a crackdown, some of these crackdowns are over the top like you saw in Magic Round last year.
“That’s the only way you’re going to get them out of the game.
“There’s been until Ricky unfortunately made his comment it was the story last week, everyone was talking about it.”
Defending his character, Rothfield believes Carrigan never intended to break another player’s ankle, however it is something that needs to be removed from the game.
“Have you ever met Patrick Carrigan?” Rothfield asked.
“No,” Daley said.
“He got 99.9% in his high school certificate,” Rothfield said.
“He’s a trained, qualified physiotherapist, he’s a really good person.
“I’m not sure any player does it deliberately, the way it’s been explained to me guys is that there’s a certain target area when you’re third man, you’ve got to go above the knees these days right and below the hip.
“Sometimes if you miss the target area and you go above the hip, the player will keep driving his legs, the defender slides down, puts his weight on the legs and at all costs stop the attacker.
“They’ve got to get it out of the game, it’s a tough sport without this sort of thing happening.”
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