Rugby League


Maguire warns off NRL rule going too far

Michael Maguire has warned against the NRL's late-hit edict going too far, after losing Wests Tigers forward Luke Garner to the controversial rule.

The NRL's crackdown survived its first challenge at the judiciary on Tuesday when Garner was banned from facing Manly for tackling Canterbury playmaker Lachlan Lewis after he had passed the ball.

Garner's hit came in the same match Bulldog Chris Smith was binned for a similar hit - a decision labelled 'soft' by Canterbury fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

After his hearing a frustrated Garner admitted defenders must adapt to policy, but also said the game was "obviously a little bit softer" than in previous eras.

"Yeah, I don't disagree," Tigers coach Maguire said on Wednesday.

"But I understand where the game's going. I just hope that they don't go too far with it. Obviously they're trying to stamp out certain things.

"That's what a halfback's job is, to be able to go to the line. I just hope they don't tip too far the other way now.

"The speed at which the game is now and you're telling your halfbacks to go to the line all the time, at some stage they are going to get clipped."

The NRL believe the crackdown, introduced in June, was already proving effective.

Head of football Graham Annesley said he had already seen defenders pull out of making potentially late tackles so playmakers had more protection.

He likened the rule to other player safety measures introduced to eradicate shoulder charges, dangerous throws, high tackles and punching.

The NRL's legal counsel Peter McGrath successfully argued playmakers were entitled to both to take the ball to the line and have protection before Garner was banned for a week.

During the hour-long hearing Garner's lawyer Nick Ghabar argued marginally late collisions were unavoidable and merely part of the game.

"Some people can say that (the game has got soft)," Garner said, as he left Rugby League Central.

"From the older days where there was a lot more going on to now, it's obviously a little bit softer. But that's the transition it makes from year to year.

"They want to protect the players so that's what they've got to do.

"We've got to stop making those tackles now."

--End of article--

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