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  • Sydney Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce concedes halves are fair game when going to defensive line

    2018 - 07.03

    Roosters co-captain Mitchell Pearce believes the NRL is adequately protecting playmakers and has no qualms about halves being targeted when going to the defensive line.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The issue has been a hot one since Newcastle’s Beau Scott manhandled Johnathan Thurston in round two, leaving the Cowboys star battered and bruised. Scott, famed for his rugged defence, put several big shots on his club and Origin opponent. However, it was the hit after Thurston passed the football which has created most of the headlines, sparking debate on whether halves need further protection.

    Former Knight Andrew Johns called it a “cheap shot”, while Melbourne’s Cameron Smith said it was a regular feature of Scott’s game.

    In another notable incident, Todd Carney was hit late by another former Rooster, Lama Tasi, during a recent Super League fixture. The collision, which came long after Carney had passed the ball, left the former Dally M medallist with a broken rib and extended stint on the sidelines.

    Pearce, himself a target for rival teams, said there was no room for blatant foul play. However, he said he and other playmakers were fair game when they were taking the ball to the line.

    “If you eliminate pressure on the halves in defence, it’s going to be touch footy,” Pearce said.

    “Late hits and dog shots [need to be punished], but talking as a half they shouldn’t change those rules. As a half you pride yourself on going to the line, playing hard and getting hit. There’s a balance that needs to be there. If it’s a late shot, a couple of seconds late [then penalise], but if it’s as you’re passing the ball then that’s what good defence is. If it’s simultaneous, as they pass the ball, it’s alright. Otherwise it will change the defence too much.

    “They are inconsistent sometimes, sometimes they say ‘tackle through’ and at other times they give a penalty for it.

    “As a half, you shouldn’t be able [to go untouched], otherwise it allows players to go to the line.”

    Pearce said that while kickers are occasionally taken out late, for the most part he was pleased with the rules and the interpretation of them.

    There have been fears the smaller, creative players are being bashed out of the game because the big forwards targeting them are being interchanged as soon as they are fatigued. But in a pointer to the balance being redressed, the NRL is contemplating reducing the number of interchanges from 10 for next season.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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