Big bang … Ben Matulino (right) hits Josh Papalii. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
NRL officials have agreed to meet disgruntled players over the banning of the shoulder charge, even though they are adamant there will be no backflip over the issue.
The Rugby League Players' Association executive met on Wednesday night to discuss the consultation process given the wave of public condemnation via social media by the players, after the controversial decision to outlaw the shoulder charge.
Following that meeting, NRL officials agreed to meet with the RLPA to discuss the findings of the report which was the catalyst for the ban.
While RLPA chief executive David Garnsey acknowledged that the players were asked for their input during the composition of the report - leading to one emailed response and a telephone call - he felt the consultation should have extended beyond the completion of the report.
''As has been reported in the media today, the players' views on the shoulder charge were invited at the outset of the review four months ago but that has been the extent of the consultation with the players on this issue to date,'' Garnsey said following the scheduled board meeting.
''While the report was described as 'detailed' in the NRL's media release, all that I have seen, and all that the players have seen, are the five dot points that appeared in that media release.''
Garnsey said while player welfare - at the heart of the decision by the NRL to ban the tackle - was paramount, he said his members were entitled to have a voice on the issue.
''The RLPA certainly wants its members to have long, productive and injury-free football careers and to enjoy good health once they have retired,'' he said. ''But in the context of making a decision that directly impacts on players - and we are talking here about the very people who both make and are the recipients of shoulder charges - the players are entitled to be provided with the relevant information and an opportunity to discuss it."
Garnsey said he was in the process of scheduling the meeting with NRL officials.
The NRL's interim chief executive Shane Mattiske said he was ''happy to talk to the RLPA at any time about any issue''. ''We're quite happy to meet with David and to talk to him about the decision that was made by the Commission,'' Mattiske said.
In addition to the issue of consultation, the players will no doubt be seeking answers on what will constitute an illegal shoulder charge from next season. There is still confusion about whether, for instance, Simon Dwyer's tackle on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves - a front-on tackle where contact was made via the Wests Tigers player's shoulder - will be deemed illegal.
That issue was raised by new Warriors coach Matthew Elliott on Thursday. After watching video this week of his front-rower Ben Matulino, he said the definition needed clarifying.
''He's not actually shoulder charging - he's tackling where he hits with his shoulder,'' Elliott said. ''It's a little bit different. I guess we're going to have to make sure we get to the other side of the semantics of what a shoulder charge is and what a shoulder charge isn't.''
Elliott said, though, that he expected debate about the death of the tackle to die down quickly. ''It's a low percentage play. It's not an effective play even though it looks good, because guys bounce up off the ground and get a quick play-the-ball, or they keep going,'' he said.