Rule change looms after ugly Anzac Day act

Moses Suli KO'd after kick-off
Moses Suli KO'd after kick-off

Both coaches out of Thursday’s clash at Allianz Stadium concede more needs to be done to protect players from kick-offs, with Trent Robinson expecting the NRL to enact a rule change soon in a bid to lessen the risk of concussion.

Dragons centre Mosese Suli became the latest player to be knocked out from a kick-off after he clashed heads with Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves as he tried to tackle him in the opening few seconds.

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Suli was ruled out immediately and the makeshift left edge defended admirably against Joseph Manu and Dom Young, although it mattered little as the Roosters piled on 60 points on Anzac Day.

There have been several sickening collisions already this season, with Bulldogs prop Poasa Faamausili knocked out on the opening carry when he collided with Sharks lock Cameron McInnes.

Player safety has never been more important, with sporting codes around the world trying to find ways to reduce heavy collisions that can lead to brain trauma.

“It’s a terrible way to start a game, and we did miss him because he’s powerful from the back of the field. We couldn’t win that battle from the back of the field and we were always kicking from inside our 40,” Dragons coach Shane Flanagan said.

Trent Robinson and James Tedesco.
Trent Robinson and James Tedesco.

“We want to play this really tough gladiator sport, and we want to get down there – especially off kick-offs – and have really good contact with front-rowers.

“But we see it too often. I don’t know the answer, but we see it too often.

“When it happens to one of your players, it’s not nice to see. I don’t know how we stop it, unless we start with a play the ball, and that’s not something I’d like to see.

“In the modern game, we can’t have these concussions. We need to look after the players.

“The short dropouts and all that have probably changed it a little bit, but I don’t know the answer.”

Sharks veteran Dale Finucane retired earlier this week due to repeated head knocks, and he won’t be the last given how big some of the collisions are.

Moses Suli KO'd after kick-off
Moses Suli KO'd after kick-off

It’s why there have been calls for the NRL to tinker with the kick-offs like the NFL has done, with suggestions it should just be a play the ball to reduce the gap between the ball carrier and defenders who are charging in to set the tone.

“It’s a really hard one because I love kick-offs because they set a statement to how we wanted to play today,” Trent Robinson said.

“But we don’t want to see that for Moses.

“I think we can see that we’re getting to the point where it needs to shift. I think they tried to do it through the short kick-offs, but it’s not enough.

“Field position is still a really big part of the game, so you need to get down there. I think we’re getting closer to a change soon.”