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No big hits, no fans, says Papalii

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Josh Papalii tackles Anthony Minichiello in 2012.

Josh Papalii tackles Anthony Minichiello in 2012. Photo: Colleen Petch

Canberra Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii believes the outlawing of the shoulder charge will cause some fans to become disillusioned with the game and fears the move will ensure the opening rounds of the season are riddled with penalties.

One of the NRL's best shoulder-charge exponents, the quietly-spoken Papalii didn't hide his disappointment when asked his views on the Australian Rugby League Commission's controversial decision.

''It separates us from union. Many fans come to watch people put shots on and the contact, I guess it will be just jersey slinging now,'' he said. ''I reckon the first three rounds there will be a thousand penalties, that's another thing, it will slow down our game.

''I tried one on [Raiders halfback] Sammy Williams at training and everyone told me I couldn't do them any more.

''I hope the NRL looks at this matter properly, we'll not only lose fans through it but also game time.

''I think it should just be controlled. A prime example is Sonny Bill Williams who has such good timing and never gets it wrong.''

The Raiders' pack, particularly their second row, boasts renowned big hitters in Papalii, Joel Thompson and Newcastle recruit Joel Edwards.

But Canberra winger Sandor Earl feels it will also take time for the outside backs to adjust habits that have become second nature.

He is concerned defenders will no longer have a fair chance to stop an attacker close to the try line without the use of their shoulder.

''It's certainly going to be awkward for those moments when it's just not ideal for a normal tackle, and it is a shoulder charge [situation],'' Earl said.

''If you're coming in off your wing to attack someone who's sweeping, a fullback or whatnot, and you do go for that shoulder charge effort, it's not as if I've ever made contact with the head or anything dangerous.

''That's going to be outlawed now and everyone's instincts are going to have to change, it's going to be a bit of a teething problem at first I think.

''Hopefully they offer up a bit of leniency in those first few rounds until people get used to it, it's going to be interesting to see how many penalties are flying around.''

Raiders coach David Furner will meet with new referees boss Daniel Anderson this month for clarification on the changes.

''I'm interested to see the interpretation - a winger flying down towards the try line and a defender leading with the shoulder to bump him out, just some of those interpretations,'' Furner said.

''If there's a try to be scored and you've got someone like [Parramatta's halfback] Chris Sandow on the try line, basically he's going to try and stop him any way he can. Certainly the severity of some of the penalties, they could have left it at that. I just hope it doesn't become an issue for the referees when they're put on the spot.

''We're trying to get the NRL referees down twice [for opposed training sessions] so we can get a real good feel for what we're in for.''

Despite boasting a host of feared hitters in his pack, Furner doesn't believe the club will struggle to make the necessary defensive adjustments.

''We don't teach it, [but] there is some people like Josh [Papalii] that can do one and, at the right time, it does lift the team,'' he said. ''I've never coached it here because I think at times, although it looks spectacular, more often than not they go wrong, and more often than not it's a selfish tackle, because they bump out of it and puts pressure on the blokes around you.

''If someone is going to pull off a shoulder charge and they get it wrong, they have to suffer it [the penalty]. Basically it's the same as the spear tackle, they outlawed that by making the penalty so high.''

2 comments

  • Papalii disappointed that he can't get away with any more cheap shots into opponents backs.

    Commenter
    paul.moran.908
    Date and time
    January 07, 2013, 9:07PM
    • This is the worst rule change in a long time. Once again Rugby League rule makers have taken the path of most resistance. A disgrace that the Commission can change such a rule so quickly, especially one which alters the pure fabric of the game. I'm worried for next year.....

      Commenter
      cp
      Date and time
      January 07, 2013, 9:54PM
      Comments are now closed

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