Tuesday 14 May 2013

NRL 2013: Did Waerea-Hargreaves pay the price for soft refereeing? | Round 9 #NRLTweetPOTY Votes

COMMENT: Should the JWH-type send-off be the first of many?
Round 9 Comment and Full @NRLTweet Player of the Year Votes

2013 NRL Premiership

By W D Nicolson - May 14, 2013

World's longest set of six...
Comments are a regular feature on www.wdnicolson.com and they generally follow our weekly Set of 6 Tackles that form a Complete Set by the end of the Round. It also features Full Votes from Round 9 of The @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards. Let us know what you think of each comment via @NRLTweet and if you would like to contribute a Comment of your own please email us.

JWH belts Rose in the head... Rose is 6'2
Waerea-Hargreaves gets sent... and RIGHTLY so.

The downside for the Roosters prop and his team-mates is that he might be the straw that broke the NRL's back as it were in relation to how High Tackles are policed.

You see the Send-Off has gone into the obsolete part of the the refereeing handbook... through a combination of fear from on-field and off-field officials to overly influence a result, and rather more subtly - with the addition of the free interchange taking some of the sting out of having an injured player on the receiving end of a high shot.

As a result, the NRL and its officials built a rod for their own back that would eventually start to beat them mercilessly the moment the referees started to march players for borderline intentional high tackles.

JWH has time to hit Rose anywhere... ANYWHERE
Then last night with a high shot on Manly's George Rose, Sydney's Jared Waerea-Hargreaves overstepped the line... and not for the first time either - which ALWAYS does and ALWAYS should count against any benefit of the doubt being given to him.

Watch the high tackle here

The apologists will claim there was 'nothing in it'... but that only holds weight if 'nothing in it' means a player cocking his arm, targeting and connecting flush with a 6'2 individual's head.

Waerea-Hargreaves plays with an edge - and this year in particular he's found a way to harness that into positive energy in attack - but he's got a history of 'nothing in it' hits defensively.

And now finally, the referees involved in the Manly-Easts Monday Night Football game - made a statement.

A long overdue statement.

Two weeks ago Steve Matai flew high deliberately and collected 6'4 individual by the name of George Burgess on the arm that was right next to his head (protecting said head) and just enough of Matai's forearm full of intent collected the arm as well as George's melon to ensure he stayed on the field.

But he shouldn't have if the NRL are going to truly clean up the game.

And that's where this Comment gets real people... the NRL should be cracking down on Head High tackles MORE than Shoulder Charges.

@NRLTweet Player of the Year - Round 9
Votes from Round 9 so far are below.

JWH has picked his spot and loads up his arm...
Now I'll go on record as saying the shoulder charge in its purest form should not be banned from the game, but once the NRL decided that it was ANY shoulder contact resulted in at the very least a penalty, if not an actual judicial charge - the players started getting the message. While we do see the odd shoulder charge out of reflex, the 'bad ones' are certainly fewer and further between... so the players are getting the message, and those that aren't get punished with time on the sideline (for the most part - there will always be some protected species - accept that people).

Why the NRL hasn't set the same tone with High Tackles - years ago - is the real question here.

JWH doesn't miss his target... it's all head. Is sent-off
In the scheme of the past 10 years of high tackle policing - Waerea-Hargreaves may well have stayed on the park under say 6 of 10 refereeing combinations - but if the NRL is going to start getting the message across to players that attacking - the key word - the head of an opponent results in an almost automatic suspension (starting at a week with only complete clean-skins getting the early guilty plea), then high shots like the one we saw from Waerea-Hargreaves will continue to happen... and probably continue to be not sent-off.

Unless we have actually seen a conscious decision from Daniel Anderson and his refereeing ranks that they will no longer shirk the responsibility they have for player safety.

Remember people - the referees job is not to look out for the perpetrator here... he's got a duty of care to watch out for player safety (doctor or not before you try that argument  and if he actually enforces the rules of the game - he can keep the game relatively clean.

What has been dragging this area of officiating down is the reluctance to march players for intentional foul play... and maybe, just maybe, Waerea-Hargreaves has pushed the envelope just far enough so that the wannabe tough men of the game stop risking the health of their opponents.

Jake Friend didn't miss either... but will miss no time
Now as this Comment was being written, JWH was given a charge that could see him miss between 5 and 7 weeks of football - fair or foul, he did the crime now do the time allocated, but Jake Friend's high shot on Brent Kite has attracted a charge but the hooker can avoid a week off with an early guilty plea.

Which would open another can of worms... given Kite had to leave the field after Friend's high tackle... should he be facing a higher charge? Especially given George Rose got up and continued to play... just something to think about.

As this Comment finishes - take a look at two previous examples of JWH 'sailing too close to the wind'... now try telling me he doesn't have a history of aiming high with a straight face...

Simply put: If you don't hit a bloke high - you don't get sent-off or suspended  sorry but it IS that simple.

Mind you, JWH hasn't always been the person doing the hit...
Do you think the NRL needs to crackdown on high tackles like they did with Shoulder Charges? Will it make any difference?
Please comment below or reply on Twitter.

Each week's Complete Set of Six (though technically you get 7 points if you include the Quotes) is published on www.wdnicolson.com each Monday and Tuesday.

Round 9 - Six points that emerged from a four day footy week.
A tip of the hat to the SMH's 'Set of 6' and Andy Wilson's 'Set of 6' for the name, as Complete Set just doesn't roll off the tongue quite as well, and we'll call it flattery that you've already used it.
@NRLTweet Player of the Year Award
Round 9 Votes

As regular readers of www.wdnicolson.com and followers of @NRLTweet know - we run The @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards each season (starting in 2010) and they return once again for 2013 with another group of excellent Rugby League judges.

You can follow the Votes live after each game via this Hashtag #NRLTweetPOTY

One of the reasons we set this up is the Dally M Award lacks the kind of objectivity that a true player of the year award really should have, and while we aren't claiming our system is perfect - it is judged on what happens on the field with reputations and bias left by the wayside.

This is how the votes were handed out for Round 9.
@NRLTweet Player of the Year - Round 9 Voting
SOU 28-10 NQL
8 - G Burgess S Burgess, 1 - J Thurston J Sutton.
Voters | W Nicolson and B Hoese |
WTG 6-30 CRO
8 - T Carney, 3 - A Fifita L Lewis.
Voters | W Nicolson and M Spillane |
WAR 16-24 CBY
8 - J Graham, 4 - J Morris, 1 - T Hodkinson B Barba.
Voters | J Davies and A McMurray |
PAR 19-18 BRI
8 - J Hayne, 3 - S Thaiday, 2 - C Sandow, 1 - J Paulo.
Voters | M Duncan and M Tsialis |
CAN 44-14 NEW
8 - B Ferguson, 2 - T Campese, 1 - J Papalii R Robinson.
Voters | G Delaney and W Nicolson |
GLD 15-14 STI
4 - J Nightingale G Bird, 2 - N Myles A Sezer, 1 - B Falloon T Merrin.
Voters | M Trodden and M Vickers |
PEN 12-10 MEL
5 - T Grant, 4 - A Docker, 3 - L Walsh, 2 - D Simmons.
Voters | A McMurray and M Trodden |
5 - M Jennings, 4 - B Cordner, 2 - SB Williams B Lawrence.
Voters | M Spillane and W Nicolson |
 Round 9 Leaderboard: (Update for Rd 9 added Monday)
31 Votes - Cooper Cronk, MEL
26 Votes - Shaun Johnson, WAR
26 Votes - Johnathan Thurston, NQL
24 Votes - Sonny Bill Williams, SYD
23 Votes - Billy Slater, MEL
22 Votes - Trent Merrin, STI
22 Votes - Sam Burgess, SOU
21 Votes - Greg Inglis, SOU
21 Votes - Todd Carney, CRO
20 Votes - Adam Reynolds, SOU

You can follow the Votes live after each game via this Hashtag #NRLTweetPOTY

Share your thoughts on the footy so far by commenting below or replying on Twitter.

The NRL Injury List is updated regularly during each week of the season, making it an invaluable Fantasy and Tipping Tool alongside our Weekly NRL Previews once again.

Remember if you want game-specific Late Mail every week, then check out our Round Previews Every Wednesday and they are updated with all the very latest Late Mail on Friday.

If we are missing any players on this list - please comment below, reply on Twitter or email this address.
Who will take Ben Barba's mantle as champion in the 2013 @NRLTweet Player of the Year Awards?

The Prestigious Award returns for a 4th season in 2013.

Remember you can track all the votes each week after each match in 2013 via the Twitter hashtag #nrltweetpoty