'The game has to act': Paul Kent calls out 'nasty' Storm incidents

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Paul Kent says he has spoken to the NRL about two tackles Brandon Smith was involved in that resulted in injuries to Cowboys players. Pic: Fox. Sports
Paul Kent says he has spoken to the NRL about two tackles Brandon Smith was involved in that resulted in injuries to Cowboys players. Pic: Fox. Sports

NRL 360 host Paul Kent says officials need to look into a tackling technique being employed by Brandon Smith, after the Melbourne Storm player was at the centre of incidents that saw two North Queensland Cowboys stars sustain injuries.

North Queensland confirmed on Monday that Feldt had suffered a medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear which would sideline him for six weeks, ruling him out of contention for the Maroons Origin line-up with the three-game series getting underway in Sydney on June 8.

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Taumalolo also sustained a lower grade MCL injury which will see him miss the Panthers match at BlueBet Stadium, and possibly the following round against Gold Coast.

NRL 360 showed footage of both incidents from the round 11 match on Monday night's show, with Smith running in hard and hitting both players low in what would often be described as textbook tackle around the legs.

Crucially in Smith's defence, he wasn't the third man in, with the Storm forward making contact at the same time or even before his teammates on both occasions.

However, Kent said he spoke to NRL head of football Graham Annesley about the tackles and the injuries off the back of them, but was assured it was within the laws of the game.

“That is a particularly nasty one, Kyle Feldt will do six weeks, when I spoke to Graham Annesley today he said the match review panel looked at it, they basically have come back with the decision in the old days you would just call them good legs tackle,” Kent said.

“But the concern, always the delicate part, 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.”

Paul Kent's concern over legs tackles

Kent has frequently spoken out about tackling techniques he'd like to see eradicated from the game and said much like the shoulder charge and crusher tackle have been banned from the NRL, so too could this style of legs tackle.

“It is not the old traditional legs tackle where you basically hit and wrap around, it is more a drive through, then when you combine the fact they are being hit from the other direction high,” Kent explained.

“It is this practice or technique, you don’t want to say that but by the same token you go back to the old ugly tackles we have had abandoned in the game… it is not illegal, and that is the concern, it is not an illegal tackle and there is nothing illegal in it.

Seen here, Kyle Feldt sits on the bench for the Cowboys after suffering an MCL tear in his knee during a round 11 win over the Storm.
Kyle Feldt is set to spend up to six weeks on the sidelines for the Cowboys after suffering an MCL tear in his knee during the round 11 win over the Storm. Pic: Getty

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.

“That being said there were other tackles in the past that have since become illegal, and what the game now has to figure out is were they just two accidents or is there something more deliberate about it, is it something that is being practised, and if so then what do they do about it.

“Under the laws of the game it is a legal tackle but if we are going to see injuries like this beginning to start coming in where players are doing medial ligaments because they are being twisted back over themselves… then the game has to act on it.

“It is going to cause a s**tfight to be honest.”

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