Josh Dugan of the Canberra Raiders is tackled during the round one NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm at Canberra Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Stefan Postles
The Canberra Raiders have sent video footage to NRL referees boss Bill Harrigan, claiming the Melbourne Storm are using a new controversial tackling technique focused on grappling the head and neck of players.
Reacting to complaints from his players about alleged attacks on their necks during Saturday's match against the Storm, Canberra coach David Furner has identified six incidents which he has sent on to the NRL for advice.
Raiders captain Terry Campese made on-field complaints to the referees about the alleged holds during the 24-19 loss to the Storm.
''My concern is the players and its got to do with the head and the chin,'' Furner said.
''They're pulling the chin across with their hands. I could see they were slowing us down by using this technique.''
The Canberra Times has since learned that there is a similar grappling hold known as the chinstrap, which is intended to immobilise victims by forcing their head to one side.
The accusation is sure to inflame Canberra's relationship with Storm, who have been at the centre of previous accusations over controversial tackling techniques.
It was then-Raiders coach Matt Elliott who first highlighted the Storm's alleged use of the grapple tackle, which caused a bitter feud before their 2003 finals clash. Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy is a foundation Raiders player from the club's 1982 team.
Various accusations have also been made since about the Storm and tackles such as the chicken wing (an arm lock), crusher (pinning a player's head against the tackler's chest) and rolling pin (kneeling on opponent's calves).
Furner admitted that wrestling had become a regular part of NRL tackling technique, but he said player welfare needed to be maintained.
''You're trying to find a split second on the ground where you can get your defensive line,'' Furner said. ''You're wrestling all the time, whether you've got the ball in your hands or you haven't.
''It's a tactic they [Melbourne] use. It stops your movement. You try and fight to get a quick play the ball, but it stops you moving.''
The NRL match review committee yesterday cleared Storm fullback Billy Slater of any charges for a high tackle on raiders fullback Josh Dugan. Slater had been placed on report, but Dugan had already spoken out in support of Slater.