Taylan May injury sparks uproar after 'awful' tackle cleared by NRL

The Penrith Panthers winger suffered a devastating knee injury during the World Club Challenge.

Taylan May, pictured here suffering a season-ending knee injury in the tackle.
Taylan May suffered a season-ending knee injury in the tackle. Image: Getty/Fox Sports

NRL fans have lashed out after a tackle that resulted in Taylan May suffering a season-ending ACL injury was given the all-clear. News emerged on Monday that the Penrith winger had suffered an ACL tear in his knee and will miss the entire 2023 season.

May was hurt in a three-man tackle during the first half of the Panthers' loss to St Helens in the World Club Challenge on Saturday night. The winger was being held upright by two St Helens players before Agnatius Paasi came in around the legs and twisted May's lower body.

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Fans were left crying foul that the tackle wasn't penalised, with the act of attacking a player's legs during a three-man tackle outlawed and known as a 'cannonball'. Because Paasi had made the initial contact around May's hip before sliding down, and didn't drop onto his legs like a 'hip-drop', the tackle was actually legal.

But it begs the question about whether it should be, considering it still caused a devastating injury for May. The NRL's match review co-ordinator Luke Patten confirmed the tackle was reviewed, but said “members all agreed that the actions of Paasi were not careless and did not warrant a charge”.

“Firstly, the initial point of contact by Paasi was high on May’s hip/upper thigh,” Patten said in a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald. “For a tackle to be considered dangerous and spearing at the legs, the Match Review Committee must see forceful contact at or around the knee of the attacking player.

“Paasi also drops to his knees at the point of contact, which we encourage players to do, and did not drop his body weight onto the back of May’s lower legs. This is one of the key indicators that we would look for in a hip-drop tackle.”

Agnatius Paasi, pictured here making first contact around Taylan May's hip.
The NRL said Agnatius Paasi made first contact around Taylan May's hip. Image: Fox Sports

Fans have flooded social media in recent days in condemnation that the tackle wasn't punished. Many have suggested the rules might need to be tweaked to outlaw third-man-in tackles completely.

Taylan May injury adds to dramas for Penrith

May was already set to miss the first two games of the 2023 season due to a suspension stemming from an off-field incident. However he will now be sidelined for the entire year in a huge blow to the back-to-back premiers.

May was a revelation after being called into first grade early in 2022, scoring 16 tries and forming a lethal combination on the left edge with fellow youngster Izack Tago. Brian To'o now looks likely to shift to the left, allowing Fijian international Sunia Turuva to play on the right wing.

In a major twist, Charlie Staines left the Panthers to join the Wests Tigers this year after he wasn't able to crack first grade in 2022 due to May's form. Had he still been with the Panthers he would have been a ready-made replacement.

The Panthers also lost Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau in the off-season, with the premiership players joining the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers respectively. However they did get Tyrone Peachey from the Tigers in a swap for Staines.

"It's a bit of both I think. A reality check definitely," five-eighth Jarome Luai said after Penrith's 13-12 loss to St Helens.

"Every team in this comp is hard to beat and watching a few trial games over the weekend there are some good teams out there. All the teams are coming out fresh and ready to go, so we're going to have to keep getting better as we go."

with AAP

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