SO it took just one round of the new season for the referees to annoy Des Hasler and the Match Review Committee to leave us scratching our heads in disbelief.
As Junior Paulo spends the next nine weeks on the sideline contemplating a tackle on Manly’s Matt Ballin that was admittedly ugly and needs to be stamped out, how is it that Melbourne’s Felise Kaufusi will miss only one match after he speared into Benji Marshall’s legs after the Dragons playmaker had kicked the ball last Monday night.
The NRL bangs on about protecting the kicker, particularly when they are up in the air and defenceless, yet they give Kaufusi a slap on the wrist for a cheap shot that could have snapped Marshall’s leg and ended his season.
Make no mistake, this is a dirty tactic and it should be outlawed. Don’t buy into crap about coaches insisting defenders put pressure on the kicker. It’s bad enough we allow kickers to be smashed every time they kick as long as the defender wraps his arms around and makes it look like a tackle.
But Kaufusi had no intention of making a tackle on Marshall. He zeroed in on the legs of a bloke who had no hope of bracing himself for contact and was lucky to escape serious injury.
If the Match Review Committee and the NRL judiciary really believe Paulo deserves to spend nine times as long on the sideline as Kaufusi then any hope of consistency has gone out the window already.
Is it going to take a team’s key playmaker having his leg broken or knee shredded before we stamp out the grubby ploy of launching kamikaze-style at the legs of kickers?