Wade Graham's truth bomb for NRL after ban for high tackle upheld
The Sharks enforcer was sent to the bin after a brutal head-high tackle against the Rabbitohs.
Sharks player Wade Graham has admitted he might need to reshape his tackling technique after copping a four-match suspension for a head-high tackle. Graham found himself in the sin bin against the Rabbitohs in his team's rollercoaster 27-18 loss in their opening NRL game of the season.
Despite a thrilling match between two of the 2023 heavyweights, Graham's brutal hit on Davvy Moale with 13 minutes left in the second half marred the contest. Graham rushed out of the line and smashed Moale who went flying back, but managed to hold onto the ball.
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While the referee originally let play continue, the video replay showed Graham made contact with Moale's head. Referee Todd Smith told the back-rower: "You left the ground to make contact with the head". Graham then watched on from the sideline as he received 10 minutes in the sin bin.
NRL fans were divided over the issue with many claiming Graham didn't deserve to be sent to the bin. However, on Monday night, Graham copped a four-match suspension for the tackle that made contact with the head.
And the back-rower has admitted he might need to slightly change his technique in the future to avoid another suspension. Speaking to the judiciary panel on Tuesday night, Graham said he had began to aim high in tackles after a history of being knocked out when collected by ball-carriers' hips.
But after Tuesday's verdict he fears that could now put him at risk of further suspensions, after he crept too high and collected Moale. "There is a risk low now (at the hip), and a high risk high now (of penalty) too," Graham said outside after being found guilty.
"I will have to work on a few things through training for sure. If that's the bar they have set moving forward for a reckless tackle, it will be interesting to see how it plays out for the rest of the year."
Wade Graham cops four-game suspension for reckless hit
Graham's suspension means he will most likely miss out on reaching 300 club games in his career, unless the Sharks go deep in the NRL Finals. The Sharks enforcer told the panel on Monday that he has moved to change his tackle technique due to repeated concussions during his career.
"I have had a series of concussions so I don't try to aim low anymore ... I just aim at the ball really," Graham told the panel. "I try and stay away from the hip because attackers move fast. I have hit hips in the past making tackles and I have to look after myself as well as the attacker. In those split second decision, things move fast. It's hard to change."
Judiciary counsel Patrick Knowles disagreed. Knowles claimed Graham left the ground and launched into Moale.
"This type of tackle has no place in the game of rugby league," Knowles said. "He is lifting himself off the ground to exert force with his shoulder. That is a reckless angle to go into a tackle.
"Feet off the ground, aiming with the shoulder in an upwards direction. That natural consequence is if it goes wrong, the player will strike not the ball but the head or the neck."
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