Bennett backs crusher tackle crackdown

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett hopes players respect the game’s tough stance on crusher tackles enough not to exploit the rules to milk penalties.

The NRL’s crackdown on crusher tackles reached boiling point on Thursday night when Parramatta coach Brad Arthur and Melbourne rival Craig Bellamy butted heads over contentious allegations that Eels players feigned injury to milk penalties.

Eels winger Maika Sivo was twice accused of staying down.

Arthur bristled at the assertion, saying: “No one is deliberately staying down, mate.”

Told Arthur angrily denied Eels players milked penalties, Bellamy – after a long pause – responded: “I think I disagree with Brad on that.”

Bennett, a long-time critic of the crusher tackle, welcomes the NRL’s stance to place a minimum two-game ban on any crusher.

Wayne Bennett is no fan of the crusher tackle. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

He believes it is difficult to adjudicate if a player is “faking” to earn a penalty before declaring the responsibility is on the players not to use the tackle in the first place.

“The judiciary will work out if it is a crusher tackle or not – after that, I just hope the players respect it enough not to take advantage of it and try and get a penalty out of it,” Bennett said.

“Whether they were faking it last night or not, I don’t know – I don’t have that answer.

“But what I do have is don’t do the tackle and you won’t have a problem.

“That is what I told my players.

“I had a conversation this morning about not doing it.

“There is a duty of care to each other as players.

“I’m no fan of the crusher tackle, never have been. I can tell you when they first started, and I can tell you the game and the players that got a fair bit of pain and grief out of it on that day. And that was back about 15 years ago.

“They are becoming more predominant.”

On Friday, the NRL match review panel cleared Melbourne’s Cooper Johns and Albert Vete of crusher tackles, citing only Parramatta’s Marata Niukore.

Rabbitohs forward Ethan Lowe is facing an uncertain future following a crusher tackle that resulted in neck surgery. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia

The peril of the crusher tackle is particularly close to Bennett given Souths lost forward Ethan Lowe to the tackle against Newcastle back in round 10.

Lowe’s career is now in doubt after he suffered an exacerbation of an old neck injury he previously had an operation on in 2016.

“I don’t want Ethan, who is out for the season, and may not play again because of a crusher tackle,” he said.

“People get serious injuries from that tackle, so I can’t understand why you want to apologise for it or you want to make an excuse about it.

“The reality is if it is a crusher tackle, it is a crusher tackle, and the judiciary will make that decision if you are unsure about it, and we are going to have to live with the consequences.”

Bennett returned to Souths training on Friday following his two-week ban for breaking the NRL‘s bubble rules.

He acknowledged that he was in the wrong and is focused on helping the Rabbitohs beat Manly at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

“I missed that (the players) enormously, but it was a penalty that I had to serve, so it all worked out pretty good,” he said.

“I did the wrong thing and I paid the price for that. I understand that and it is all OK with me and I’ve moved on.

“I’m not going to comment about other sanctions. I’ve done my time now, I’m happy to be back, and I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

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