James Tedesco was booed upon his return to the field after farcical NRL scenes in the Roosters' 30-16 victory over the Cowboys on Saturday night.
Twelve players have been sin-binned and Canberra prop Josh Papalii sent off across five games at Brisbane's Magic Round so far, with the NRL-era round record of 14 sin-bins in clear danger of being broken on Sunday.
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The sudden rise has come as part of a two-pronged crackdown across the game on high tackles and repeated ruck infringements, with the NRL desperate to eradicate dangerous contact and the deliberate slow-down of attack.
But the Roosters' star full back was involved in more farcical scenes when he was allowed to return to the field immediately from a head collision and the Roosters received a free interchange, despite his rival being sin-binned.
Tedesco appeared to slip into the tackle of Lachlan Burr, which resulted in Burr making contact with the fullback's head.
Burr was marched for 10 minutes after the incident, due to the harsher enforcement of the head high rule during Magic Round.
The sin-bin certainly caught the ire of frustrated NRL fans.
— CowboyKate (@KateKatecornish) May 15, 2021
Seriously. Atleast put some consideration into the sin bins. This is an absolute joke for the sport. Look at Tedesco’s position, what is the cowboys player suppose to do ? #NRLRoostersCowboys pic.twitter.com/W4FmsoKXHR
— meng (@mengseav) May 15, 2021
The way Tedesco is there, it is quite literally impossible to stop him without some contact with the head. We're going to have people intentionally ducking and going low just so they can get an opposition player in the sin bin.
— Ian Harkin (@sportznut67) May 15, 2021
James Tedesco is nearly on his knees before contact is made, what on earth is the defender supposed to do?!
The rule can not be a black and white penalty and sin bin
Each incident is different #NRLRoostersCowboys @FOXNRL pic.twitter.com/uMpx4D0p4s
— Daniel friend (@27Frendy) May 15, 2021
I love the Roosters but that tackle on Tedesco wasn’t a sin bin offence. Anyway glad we got the win and good to have Lam back.#EastsToWin
— Cameron (@CamToTheRescue) May 15, 2021
I think it should’ve been a sin bin according to the crack down but seriously for burr to tackle tedesco here legally he has to basically get down into his knees as well 🤷🏻♀️
— Snapenhuyzen (@hf2_0_2_) May 15, 2021
A sin bin for an accidental high tackle on Tedesco is disgraceful.
— LeSullo SafeMoon 🚀🌑 (@SulloAU) May 15, 2021
How the hell is that a sin bin against diving Tedesco when he falls into the chest of Burr. People are going to start turning off. It’s ridiculous
— Lloyd Baldwin 🇬🇧 (@LloydBaldwin4) May 15, 2021
Following the collision, Tedesco went off for a HIA check.
This allowed the Roosters a free interchange under the HIA rule.
But Tedesco quickly returned to the field, which afforded the Roosters another interchange.
NRL great, turned commentator, Michael Ennis claimed the Roosters were making a 'mockery' of the interchange rule, while not doing anything wrong.
"It's a mockery of the system, they are not doing anything wrong," he said.
"If we are fair dinkum, about highlight concussion and taking it seriously, that is not a great look.
"Running a player off that has been hit high and we are looking to take precautions by running off, [but] he changes cards and runs back on.
"We either need to scrap it or he stays off the field for a period of time."
Cowboys coach savages NRL rule
Cowboys coach Todd Payten said the crackdown on the rules was taking a toll on the players, but also the referees.
“I feel sorry for the players, we’ve tried to speed the game up and now we are penalising players with a faster game, under fatigue they find themselves in vulnerable positions,” Payten said after the game.
“I feel sorry for the referees because they’re the ones under pressure to make those calls.
“I really feel sorry for our supporters across the game – this is probably the biggest weekend in our calendar throughout the season and everyone’s spending hard-earned money to turn up, and we’ve taken away from our game of rugby league in the end.”
But Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who has seen up-close the toll concussion has on a player with the recent forced retirement of Jake Friend and battles of captain Boyd Cordner, was more measured.
"I've heard some people say 'it's not the game I remember' - just calm down, we'll get there and get it right," he said.
"There's been an over-compensation (this weekend) that's easy to see but we need to tackle lower, we can't just loosely have head highs and go, 'I didn't mean it'.
"We need to get better at not hitting others in the head."
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