[ Canberra Times ]

Canberra Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin says Sam Thaiday incident not a good look for the NRL

Date: March 20 2017


Caden Helmers

Canberra Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin says attacking an opposition player's existing injury is not a good look for the game and fears it could turn young kids away.

The Raiders will head north for a clash with Brisbane Broncos on Friday night, with the hosts to be bolstered by the inclusion of forward Sam Thaiday.

Thaiday will front the judiciary this week but is not at risk of missing a game after being handed a maximum $2100 fine for squeezing the injured thumb of Melbourne prop Jesse Bromwich in round three.

The Broncos back-rower pleaded not guilty after being hit with a grade-one contrary conduct charge, and will look to have the fine reduced at Rugby League Central on Tuesday night.

Rugby league officials have worked tirelessly to make the game safer in recent years in a bid to entice families and potential young players to the game.

"Personally I don't think it's a very good look for our game," Austin said.

"We want kids playing our game. I guess if you're fit to play then you're fair game I suppose, but not in that sense.

"Run at him all you want and test him that way, but blatantly grabbing an injured hand? I think it's not a good look for the game.

But Raiders prop Shannon Boyd didn't think twice about the incident and says as soon as a player takes the field he is considered fair game.

"Hundred per cent, if you're playing [you are fair game]," Boyd said.

"Grabbing someone's thumb doesn't really mean [anything]."

Meanwhile NRL boss Todd Greenberg has drawn a line in the sand over concussion, threatening clubs with the loss of competition points should they continue to flout the rules.

The NRL handed out $350,000 worth of fines to Gold Coast, St George Illawarra and Newcastle in the wake of concerns about the improper treatment of head knocks in round three.

The Knights have already come under scrutiny for the issue with medically retired former winger James McManus opting the sue the club after the way his head injuries were handled.

Greenberg was left "dismayed" after Dragons star Josh Dugan stayed on the field despite laying motionless after wearing an elbow from teammate Russell Packer.

The Dragons were fined $100,000, while the Knights copped the same penalty after fullback Brendan Elliot played on following a swinging arm from South Sydney's Hymel Hunt, who copped a four-week ban for his efforts.

The Titans have been forced to shell out $150,000 for three separate incidents involving Kane Elgey, Joe Greenwood and Ryan Simpkins.

Greenberg emphasised in each case there was no proof the player had suffered concussion, but said all players who display signs of concussion - such as lying on the ground or being unsteady on their feet - must come off to be assessed.

Austin and teammate Josh Papalii maintain they have full confidence in Canberra's medical staff to make decisions in the best interests of the player's health.

"I know that at the Raiders here we take it very seriously," Austin said.

"There's been a few things bandied around with an 18th or 19th man and things like that. But I don't really have a solution.

"It's something at the moment we're just dealing with and we're happy that the Raiders are taking it very seriously."

The crackdown on concussion laws may need to be tweaked even further to make clubs take notice but Papalii says there is already a noticeable difference compared to when he debuted in 2011.

"I think rugby league now is definitely a bit safer than when I first came in... Obviously it comes down to a doctor and he makes that decision," Papalii said.

WITH AAP