NRL All Stars clash
Willie Mason on the charge. Photo: Getty Images
NRL All Stars coach Wayne Bennett says public pressure may convince the game's authorities to overturn their ban on shoulder charges after George Rose became the first player to feel the wrath of officials since the tackle was outlawed.
Rose was penalised and will come under scrutiny from the NRL match-review committee for a spectacular hit on Josh Morris just before half-time in Saturday night's All Stars match, won 32-6 by the Indigenous team.
There were a number of other tackles that did earn a penalty and Bennett said no one in the 41,209 crowd wanted any action taken against Rose either.
"That was the most exciting part of the night, wasn't it? You tell me what got a bigger roar than that," Bennett said.
"Morris jumped up, he was fine, he didn't hit him in the head, that was what it is all about and no one wanted to see the penalty, I can tell you. They all loved the play."
NRL All Stars captain Benji Marshall and Indigenous coach Laurie Daley and skipper Johnathan Thurston all agreed. "It was just a good hit," Marshall said.
Asked if he thought the ARL Commission would review the decision, Bennett said: "If the crowds keep roaring and enjoying it, they will change their mind. They are flexible. We are in the entertainment business."
Marshall said players were nervous about the ban, which leaves players who do not use their arms to tackle facing possible suspension.
"The shoulder charge is a low-percentage play anyway," he said. "If you want to take the risk of tackling without your arms, most of the time you are going to miss the tackle."
Bennett said the referees were taking time to get used to the rule change.
"I think that will be an ongoing debate as well," he said. "We have just put more pressure on the referees; I don't think it is going to light their load one bit.
"The key part for me is that there is no place for hitting anyone in the neck or head but the problem was the penalties weren't severe enough."
Daley said: "I would hate to see a game decided by it."
A number of star players watching the game on television tweeted their disappointment with the penalty against Rose.
"Over this shoulder charge rule already," wrote South Sydney captain Michael Crocker. "Great shot on a flying Josh Morris. 80 per cent of highlights reels are full of those."
Cronulla's Wade Graham tweeted: "Can see the new shoulder charge rule is going to go down real well with fans. Great shot."
Rose's Manly teammate Jorge Taufua added: "May as well play union. Love getting hit like dat. #Bringitback."