ANDREW JOHNS – NINEMSN COLUMN

The Shoulder Charge is Here to Stay

by Andrew Johns NineMSN Thu Jul 26 2012

The shoulder charge is a big part of the high-impact side of rugby league that fans love to watch and talk of banning it is ridiculous. I think the NRL has the right idea at the moment. If in making any form of tackle, whether it’s a shoulder charge or ball-and-all, if you make contact with the opponent’s head then you are in trouble. The Greg Inglis hit on Dean Young definitely made contact with the head, did some real damage and should have been punished. I’m not sure it warranted four weeks out of the game or even the three he ended up getting, I would have thought two weeks was sufficient punishment.

South Sydney has now lost both Issac Luke and Greg Inglis in the space of a couple of weeks. If you take the fullback and hooker out of any team they are going to struggle, but in this case they are also two of the club’s best players. The Rabbitohs did alright without Luke last week against the Dragons, but Inglis was the star performer in that game as he has been in most matches this year. Souths do have Nathan Merritt up their sleeves and there isn’t a player in the NRL who can sniff out a try like he can.

South Sydney has the benefit of playing a tired and battered Wests Tigers outfit this week after their Monday night trip to Townsville. The Tigers have lost promising youngster Curtis Sironen and star centre Chris Lawrence to injury and have lost their way a bit of late. They still have a chance to make a run at the finals, but I think Benji Marshall has to step back a bit from the ball playing role and run it more. Marshall is at his dangerous best when he is taking on the defensive line and the Tigers are going to need him at his best as they try to finish off the season on a high.

Parramatta Eels have no chance of making the finals, but still have plenty to play for as they prepare to be coached by Ricky Stuart. The Eels showed last week against the Storm how well they can play when they want to and the time has to come for the players to be held more responsible for their performances. Parramatta can’t keep signing new coaches every couple of years when clearly the players have more control of what is happening on the field than the man in the coaching box. I’m sure Ricky Stuart won’t accept anything but the best each and every week from the players, and I hope he can lift the Eels back towards the top of the competition where their long-suffering fans deserve to see them.

I’m not sure what the NSWRL are going to do about the Blues coaching job with Stuart taking on a club role fulltime. I seriously hope that they keep him on in the NSW role, as he has built such a strong spirit in the side and has come so close to stopping Queensland’s run. I think he has enough support in blokes like Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Trent Barrett to be able to handle both jobs. I know Fittler and Daley have both put their hands up for the main job and I’m sure they’d both do well, but I also think that as a coaching team they work better with Stuart at the helm.

Billy Slater has been named to play for Melbourne Storm for the first time since he injured himself in State of Origin II. The Storm have lost their last four games which is unheard of and they have obviously been missing the spark that Slater provides from the back. This weekend they take on St George Illawarra in what has been a bitter rivalry ever since the 1999 grand final. I’m sure there will be plenty of feeling in this as the Dragons struggle to keep their season alive. There might even be a shoulder charge or two and the crowd will love it.

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