Reuben Garrick's shocking injury comes to light after mid-air tackle controversy

The Manly Sea Eagles fullback fractured his back in the contentious incident with Charnze Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Reuben Garrick in action for Manly.
Reuben Garrick fractured his back in the tackle from Charnze Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. Image: Getty/AAP

The Manly Sea Eagles have revealed Reuben Garrick fractured his back in the controversial tackle from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad that the NRL deemed wasn't dangerous. In a club statement released on Tuesday, the Sea Eagles said: "Scans have confirmed Garrick suffered a fractured transverse process in his back after landing heavily in the second half (against the Warriors)."

Controversy erupted in the aftermath of the incident, after the referee and Bunker deemed there was nothing illegal about the play, despite Nicoll-Klokstad wiping out Garrick's legs while he was jumping for a ball. Under NRL rules, mid-air tackles are allowed if the ball has bounced - as was the case on Friday night.

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However many felt the tackle could have resulted in a penalty because Garrick was placed in a dangerous position, with his legs flung way above his head before he landed on his back. But NRL head of football Graham Annesley disagreed on Monday and said the referee and Bunker got it right in not penalising the Warriors.

"We'll review all the rules and if there is a way of making the game safer, we have always defaulted to that," Annesley said. "(But) under the existing rule, there was no requirement on the referees to form a view that that was a breach of the rules."

Annesley said he did not believe Nicoll-Klokstad's conduct came with an unacceptable risk of injury. "Injury alone is not a determination of whether the rules have been breached or not," he said.

"(Players) can get injured in legitimate tackles, so you have to look at this particular situation and look at the circumstances. Was there any lack of care taken by Nicoll-Klokstad? I don't think there was."

Reuben Garrick, pictured here after being wiped out in mid-air by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Reuben Garrick was wiped out in mid-air by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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The decision not to award the Sea Eagles a penalty proved a huge turning point. A shot at goal would have seen Manly take a 24-22 lead late in the game, but the Warriors scored on the ensuing possession and went on to win 29-22. Marata Niukore made a break before running straight past a visibly hampered Garrick to score the match-winning try.

With just two games left in the regular season and Manly's finals hopes in tatters, the Sea Eagles are very unlikely to risk playing Garrick again. However the club said he "remains in doubt" for the final two games, and the fullback reportedly wants to keep playing because he can't do any further damage. The revelation that he fractured his back in a tackle that was deemed 'not dangerous' left fans fuming on Tuesday.

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Speaking after the game, Manly coach Anthony Seibold said: "It was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. That's a penalty every day of the week.

"The rule says it's not because the ball bounced, or it wasn't a kick, but how many times do we pull a tackle up for a slight crusher, give a penalty?

"Or someone slipping up from the chest to the jaw and it's a penalty? Like fair dinkum, let's be serious. We go two points up with six minutes to go there.

"(Instead), they get the ball back, Reuben can't run. We make a poor defensive error but our fullback can't run and we're saying it's not a dangerous tackle. It was a dangerous tackle. He was injured. He couldn't finish the game. And it's our season on the line so I am pissed off about it."

with AAP

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