Cronulla left fuming at NRL over ugly act that went unpunished

Tevita Tatola, pictured here tackling Will Kennedy in the NRL.
Craig Fitzgibbons thought Tevita Tatola's tackle on Will Kennedy was a hip-drop. Image: Fox Sports/Getty

Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon has revealed the club asked the NRL for a please explain over a tackle that left fullback Will Kennedy needing ankle surgery and out until the finals.

Kennedy suffered a serious syndesmosis injury in the Sharks' golden-point win over South Sydney after a tackle from Tevita Tatola that Cronulla thought was a 'hip-drop'.

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Tetola tackled Kennedy after he passed the ball and came down with his weight on the Sharks fullback's ankle, but wasn't penalised on field and escaped sanction from the NRL after review.

Fitzgibbons revealed on Friday that Cronulla's general manager of football Darren Mooney contacted the NRL in the days after the game to seek clarification for the match review committee's decision to overlook the tackle.

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"It's getting difficult to understand," Fitzgibbon said.

"I didn't understand the explanation but it is what it is. We move on.

"You really don't want to get stuck and dwell on what you can't control. All I can control is the team that's going to play this weekend.

"But we lose a good player and an important part of our team for an extended period and there's no charge."

Will Kennedy, pictured here in action for the Cronulla Sharks.
Will Kennedy in action for the Cronulla Sharks. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The 'hip-drop' tackle has been a talking point in the game this week after Patrick Carrigan was banned for four weeks for a nasty incident that resulted in a broken leg for Jackson Hastings.

Tyrell Fuimaono, Thomas Flegler, Nathan Cleary and Billy Tsikrikas are among a number of other players to have been sanctioned for similar tackles this season, though not all have been hip-drops in the textbook sense.

Fitzgibbon said he felt hip-drop tackles are becoming more common in the game, but doubted they are being coached at training.

"No one actually intends to do it. They are unfortunate and they're happening more than normal," he said.

"There's been an influx of these but they'll gradually dissipate.

"More players are aware of it, so they'll avoid it. I don't think they'll be an issue that sticks with us."

Jackson Hastings, pictured here after suffering a broken leg in a hip-drop tackle from Patrick Carrigan.
Jackson Hastings suffered a broken leg in a hip-drop tackle from Patrick Carrigan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Are Melbourne Storm to blame for the hip-drop?

On Thursday, Melbourne champion Cameron Smith hit back at claims from Greg Alexander that the Storm are responsible for the introduction of the hip-drop.

“Brandy (Alexander) is a great analyst of the game and one of the greatest players of our game,” Smith said on SEN radio.

“I just don’t know how he came up with that comment. To single out one club and to say that they introduced that tackle into our sport, that’s over the top.

“I can’t ever recall seeing Brandy at one of our training sessions throughout my career and my 20 years at Melbourne.

“I work with Brandy on our radio station and he’s a great fella, but to single out the Melbourne Storm, that’s really unfair, really unfair.

“To say that a club or even clubs now are practising or teaching their players to fall into the back of legs, I think that’s a little bit over the top.”

Penrith legend Alexander said the Storm have 'led the way' in the past with a number of controversial techniques that have since been banned.

the grapple, the chicken wing, the rolling pin, the crusher, the hip-drop... I think they all emanate out of Melbourne.

“I thought it was just general consensus that over the last 20 years that all the tackles, the wrestling techniques had come out of Melbourne," the NSW assistant coach said.

“I might be generalising or even jumping to a conclusion, but I don’t think I am.

“These tackles over the last 20 years, all the different types of techniques, they appear in the game and it takes the game a little while to catch up to them.

“I think history shows - and it’s not a stretch for me to jump to a Melbourne Storm conclusion - that the grapple, the chicken wing, the rolling pin, the crusher, the hip-drop... I think they all emanate out of Melbourne."

with AAP

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