TWO OF the game’s superstar playmakers have stressed the need to protect kickers, especially after the knee injury suffered by South Sydney’s No.7 Adam Reynolds thrust the issue back under the spotlight.
Johnathan Thurston and Benji Marshall have good reason to throw their support behind the NRL’s tough stance on kickers being collected late.
Marshall went as far to say protecting kickers carried the same importance as rubbing out the dangerous throw.
While Canterbury fans were stunned James Graham had been penalised for his attempted charge-down on Reynolds last Friday — the penalty and eventual result led to the ugly post-match scenes at ANZ Stadium — Marshall and Thurston believed kickers’ legs deserved to be well and truly off-limits.
“I’m lucky because had I got hit one centimetre lower where I got hit (in round one), I’m probably in the same boat (as Adam Reynolds),’’ Marshall said on Wednesday.
“It’s a big thing protecting kickers. That’s what the rules are in place for. As much as people might not think it’s a penalty, you can’t attack the legs, whether it’s an accident or not.
“It’s the same as someone falling over and you hitting them accidentally in the face. It’s a penalty for high contact.
“It’s all good putting pressure on them, you just can’t attack the legs.’’
Thurston watched the Graham tackle on Reynolds and said: “In my opinion he’s obviously come at the legs, he looks like he’s tripped as he was going for the charge-down, but it’s gone wrong, and that’s the risk you take when you do those things.
“Now it’s unfortunate one of the best players in the game will be out for four to five months because of those actions.
“There’s no doubts the NRL need to make a stance on it.’’