NRL coach calls for illegal act to be banished: 'It's deliberate'

·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
NRL player Liam Knight (pictured) in pain after an injury.
NRL player Liam Knight (pictured) suffered an ACL injury when he was hit with a cannonball tackle. (AAP)

South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou has called for harsher bans to be handed down to players who are charged with a cannonball tackle after Liam Knight was ruled out of the season.

Knight would have returned to the first grade side this week if he wasn't hit with a cannonball tackle - contact to the legs of a standing player held upright in a tackle - by Parramatta's Solomone Naiduki.

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Instead, Knight is out for the remainder of the season with an ACL injury.

Meanwhile, Naiduki received a three-week suspension.

And Demetriou doesn't believe the NRL have come down hard enough on the illegal act.

But prohibiting the cannonball tackle has not eliminated it entirely and the NRL has not always enforced its ban with suspensions.

Trent Loiero and Lindsay Collins were cited for cannonball tackles earlier this season but both escaped with fines.

And Demetriou said the act is often deliberate and can cause serious injury.

"There's no accident in that. It's a deliberate act. There's intent," Demetriou said.

Jaxson Paulo (pictured) celebrates scoring a try with team mates.
The Rabbitohs are facing a number of injuries. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

"I played the game for a long time, since I was six years old, and never once did I look at a bloke's knees and cannonball him. It's something our game needs to get rid of.

"(Naiduki) misses 10 minutes (in the sin bin) and three weeks and we've got a guy who's out for the season for an act that can be ruled out of our game so easily."

Demetriou said the tackle left Knight "distraught".

"That's the thing we're not taking into account with these types of tackles, there's an emotional toll that the player who gets injured has to take on," he said.

"It's left up to us to help Liam get through this."

South Sydney busted up ahead of Knights clash

Knight's ACL tear was the worst injury on a busy weekend for the Rabbitohs' medical staff.

Campbell Graham (facial fracture), Hame Sele (hamstring) and Mark Nicholls (concussion) will miss the clash against the Knights this weekend.

Star fullback Latrell Mitchell and winger Alex Johnston wore strapping on their upper legs at training on Thursday and spent time away from the team consulting with head physiotherapist Eddie Farah.

But Demetriou said neither was in doubt for the game against the Knights.

"We're in round 17, bodies are busted a bit," he said.

with AAP

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