Leeds Rhinos: Good guy Moon caught by change in tackle laws – McGuire

Joel Moon
Joel Moon
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THE FIRST thing I want to say about Joel Moon is he is a good guy and definitely not a dirty player.

Rugby league is a tough game and every time you make a tackle you want to hurt your opponent, but only in a legal way – maybe knock the wind out of him and force him to step out of the action for a moment or two, but there’s a difference between hurting somebody and wounding them.

Moony wasn’t trying to cause Mark Percival any serious harm in last week’s game and I am sure he was as concerned as everyone else when the Saints lad had to be helped off.

What people watching our sport maybe don’t realise is it is quite a technical game and when you are defending you have to make split-second decisions.

It is not just a matter of grabbing the ball carrier and trying to get him on the ground.

If you are coming into a tackle as second or third man and someone else makes contact a split second before you, it can change the whole scenario.

It alters where your shoulder is supposed to be and that can make the difference between a legal tackle and an illegal one.

I don’t think for one minute Joel meant to shoulder charge him in the head. Watching the replay, he did catch him with his shoulder and it was high.

A couple of years ago it would have been a legitimate challenge and everyone would have been patting him on the back.

But the game is trying to limit contact with the head, which is something I agree with. I have heard people saying the game has gone soft, but they aren’t the ones out there playing it.

The dangers of concussion are becoming better known and obviously for the long-term health of the players, as much as possible has to be done to keep that out of the game.

What happened last Friday was just one of those unfortunate things that sometimes occurs.

I don’t blame Moony and I hope the Saints lad is all right and there’s no lasting damage.

But I think a precedent has been set and if an incident like that is worth a sending off and/or a two-game ban, probably 30 tackles a week will need looking at.

As long as everyone knows what the rules are and they are applied consistently, then nobody can complain.

Obviously, losing one of our key players for the final two games of the league season isn’t ideal, though at least he’ll be fresh for the play-offs.

We’ve already lost Bish, who is our back-up back, so somebody will have to play out of position, but we just have to crack on with it.

A few of the forwards can play at centre. Liam Sutcliffe and Stevie Ward have both started there this year and Carl Ablett has won a couple of Grand Finals in that position and if asked he will slot in and do a great job.

We’ve had plenty of adversity this year with injuries and suspensions and when they happen there’s nothing you can do about it, so there’s no point worrying.

It’s what we have got a squad for and for the next couple of games it’ll just be a case of everyone rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it.

Rob Burrow, pictured during his 500th career appearance with a specially numbered jersey in the game at St Helens in February this year. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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