Following the seven week suspension handed out to Melbourne’s Jordan McLean for his role in the tackle on Alex McKinnon it was always going to be interesting to see how referees and the match review committee would respond in following weeks.
That they failed so quickly and comprehensively should come as no huge surprise.
It needs to be remembered that four weeks of McLean’s sentence was a loading due to the severity of the injury caused, which means three weeks was for the tackle itself.
There were at least threee tackles on the weekend that were “worse” than that which ended so tragically for Alex, and yet the match review committee saw fit to charge only one player – and that was for a Grade One infringement.
Anyone who watched the Titans’ Beau Falloon tip Storm’s Will Chambers upside down, or held their breath while Greg Inglis landed safely after being upended by Joel Thompson, will be stunned that they escaped censure.
Worse still was the logic employed by the committee. Chairman Michael Buettner said that “…Inglis retained one leg on the ground for much of the tackle and he clearly lands on his forearms.”
Are these people blind or stupid?
That one leg that was on the ground for most of the tackle means that for some of the tackle it wasn’t, as the result of the tackle made clear. That Greg landed on his forearm instead of his head was more than a bit lucky; be assured the tacklers had no say in it.
Interestingly, the committee is therefore implicitly agreeing with Melbourne that McKinnon contributed to his own situation by ducking his neck, otherwise why mention the landing in this case and its impact on the charge? Or no charge as it turned out.
Newcastle were outraged that Melbourne mounted their defense of McLean on these grounds but two weeks later the committee virtually makes the same point. Apparently, how a player lands in large measure defines the seriousness of the offence – or even if an offence has been committed.
It is lunacy.
In the Falloon case they conceded “a lifting action” but said, again, that the tackled player had landed on his forearms.
Do these people want to ban lifting tackles and their occasionally horrible consequences or not?
At a time when the game needs consistency and intelligence in how it deals with these matters, the committee continues to reflect a worrying absence of both.
That the NRL stands by and condones it borders on negligence.