‘Like playing touch’: Sydney Roosters forward hits out over tackle rules

Veteran Sydney Roosters forward Isaac Liu has hit out at the rules surrounding crusher tackles, likening the new laws to “playing touch”.

The Chooks’ Angus Crichton was placed on report for a crusher tackle on the Panthers’ Liam Martin, and the club took the early guilty plea on his grade one charge.

As a result, Crichton is suspended for three games, leaving a gaping hole in the Roosters’ forward pack in the back end of the regular season.

The crackdown on high contact and crusher tackles came into effect during Magic Round, and has seen plenty of sin bins throughout the season.

Liu emphasised the need to protect the players, but was at pains to explain just how cautious players have to be in a game that requires plenty of physical contact.

Angus Crichton is suspended for three games after a crusher tackle on the Panthers’ Liam Martin. Picture: Cameron Spencer / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Yeah, super careful. It’s like playing touch,” Liu said.

“It’s a hard one. You’re doing your best in the tackle, and positions like that are hard to get out of.

“It’s pretty tough to not get yourself in that position but at the same time try and make a good tackle as well.

“It’s pretty hard.”

The 30-year-old, who links up with the Gold Coast Titans from next season, says players do practise safe tackling in line with the new laws, but still can’t fully prevent crusher tackles from occurring.

The Titans have bolstered their forward stocks with the signing of Isaac Liu. Picture: NRL ImagerySource:Supplied

“We work on it every week, trying to be safe on these tackles,” Liu said.

“But at the same time we’re trying to do the right thing, but they keep turning the head and you just get stuck in the position where you can’t win.

“No matter what position they’re in, just try to be careful in the same way in making a good tackle.”

As Crichton prepares for his three-game spell on the sidelines, his suspension places the Roosters’ penalty indiscretions further under the microscope, and perhaps how unfairly the club has been treated by the men in the middle.

Trent Robinson’s side has won the penalty count in just 29 per cent of games played in the past eight seasons.

The Roosters have been on the wrong end of the penalty count an awful lot over the past eight seasons. Picture: Matt King / Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

In fact, under Robinson’s tutelage, the Roosters have never finished higher than 12th in terms of penalties received.

By contrast, the Wests Tigers – the team with the second-worst penalty differential in the past eight years — have won the penalty count in 37 per cent of games, an eight per cent difference between the two clubs.

The team with the most penalty counts in their favour are the St George Illawarra Dragons, who win the count 55 per cent of the time.

With just four games remaining in the regular season, Trent Robinson will hope his Roosters won’t fall foul of the whistle too often as the side gears up for another premiership tilt.

The Chooks’ sprint to the end of the season begins on Friday night against the Brisbane Broncos.

Kevin Walters’ side caused an almighty upset at the SCG in Round 11, defeating the Roosters 34-16.

Robinson’s charges will have to deal with the return of Broncos flyer Xavier Coates, who’s finally been brought back in from the cold after six games on the sidelines despite not carrying an injury.

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