Melbourne Storm respond after NRL journo's 'nasty' claims

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·Sports Reporter
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Melbourne Storm's Christian Welch and Craig Bellamy have both rubbished recent suggestions the club is employing a dangerous new tackling technique. Pictures: Getty Images
Melbourne Storm's Christian Welch and Craig Bellamy have both rubbished recent suggestions the club is employing a dangerous new tackling technique. Pictures: Getty Images

After nearly a week of the Melbourne Storm's tackling techniques being scrutinised by the media, Christian Welch has finally had enough.

The Storm have been at the centre of controversy after tackles from Brandon Smith last weekend left North Queensland Cowboys stars Kyle Feldt and Jason Taumalolo injured.

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Feldt is set to miss at least six weeks after suffering a medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear, while Taumalolo will likely miss this weekend's match against Penrith with a much less serious MCL complaint.

Smith copped criticism from Fox League's Paul Kent in the aftermath, who said that while there was no doubt the tackles were legal under the NRL's rules, the fact they had resulted in two injuries to separate players was a concern.

Kent said it was a matter of technique employed by the Storm, describing the injury copped by Feldt as a 'nasty' one.

"The concern is he is hitting low just above the knee a fraction of a second before they are getting hit from above and they are getting twisted back over the top of him,"

“That is putting pressure through the knee which has resulted in two medial ligament tears.

“I spoke to the Cowboys who were reluctant to talk specifically about it, they certainly noticed it during the game and thought this is an odd way to tackle, the fact that he was so low with so much drive.”

To Melbourne though, the whole controversy is a storm in a teacup.

A slightly bemused Welch took a potshot at 'Sydney-centric' media discussing the issue on Thursday, inviting those concerned with their technique to come down to training.

"Sadly, it’s the Sydney media bias and they love-hate the Storm because we’ve had a little bit of success,” Welch said.

“The first thing I’d say to these journos is come down to Melbourne — they reckon we’re down here scheming and practising the dark arts — we literally train on a public oval.

“It’s Gosch’s Paddock, you’re welcome to come and watch.

“They might be a bit disappointed. "

Melbourne Storm hit back over NRL tackling criticism

While admitting that attempts to potentially ban this type of tackle could amount to a "s**tfight" for league officials, Kent says a precedent has been set with regards to other tackling techniques that were once celebrated, but are now outlawed in the game.

However this argument didn't carry much weight with either Welch or Storm coach Craig Bellamy.

Welch said the entire issue was a 'non-story'.

“It’s a contact sport, it’s a tough physical game, no one is going out there to hurt each other, but you’ve got to go out there and stop these guys," he said.

"Some of these guys like Jason Taumalolo are bloody 115-120 kilos, fantastic athletes.

After a week of criticism over the tackling technique, the Melbourne Storm appear unfazed. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
After a week of criticism over their tackling technique, the Melbourne Storm appear unfazed. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“If you don’t go hard at these guys, you’re going to get smoked and you’re going to potentially injure yourself.

“I just find it a bit of a non-story.”

Bellamy was possibly even mor dismissive of the questions surrounding their tackling, adding that the NRL would have its hands full enforcing something like Kent's suggestion.

He also mentioned that the Storm have boasted a relatively clean record in terms of players being cited in recent weeks.

“Do we need to get out the protractors and work the angles out that we come in?” Bellamy said earlier this weeks.

“We didn’t have anyone charged at the weekend or last three weeks or four weeks or five weeks.”

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