South Sydney Rabbitohs have lost five players for a combined total of 28 weeks due to the hip-drop tackle, with Jai Arrow the latest to fall victim after undergoing surgery for an injured ankle. Arrow, a Queensland Origin representative, could be out of action for up to eight weeks. The club had already lost Shaquai Mitchell for nine matches, Junior Tatola for four matches (he was injured twice), Keaon Koloamatangi for five games, and Izaac Thompson for two games.
South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou wrote to the NRL expressing his concerns about the matter. In response, the game’s head of elite competitions, Graham Annesley, praised players for “doing a really good job” attempting to adjust their technique. However, Demetriou remains furious that the incident involving Arrow was not penalised on Saturday night, nor was any action taken by the Bunker. Gold Coast hooker Chris Randall pled guilty to a dangerous-contact offence on Arrow and will miss one game.
Demetriou stated that every week a player suffers the same kind of tackle and yet it is deemed an accident. However, according to Demetriou, these tackles are no longer accidents and players must change their technique. The coach warned that we are losing the best players in the game and members aren’t seeing their best players play due to tackles that could have been avoided. Demetriou also highlighted that the NRL needs to focus on protecting players from dangerous tackles rather than worrying about commentary around it.
Annesley confirmed that Souths should have received a penalty for the Arrow tackle. The Bunker saw the tackle, but only minor contact was noted, so it was not deemed dangerous. However, Annesley insists that the officials should have been informed of the injury and penalised the tackle.
In contrast, Souths teammate and Blues forward Cameron Murray was cleared of a serious groin injury. While he is likely to miss the game against St George Illawarra, he may recover in time for Origin II.
Annesley also confirmed that Wests Tigers should have received a penalty for Luke Brooks‘ shove in the back rather than the Raiders‘ Jamal Fogarty being awarded a try during Friday’s game. St George Illawarra should also not have been ruled to have knocked on during their loss to Penrith. Annesley conceded that the Bunker was under pressure within tight time constraints and, as a result, errors were made.