Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith urges change of tactics after St Helens boss Paul Wellens hits out at RL
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Speaking at his weekly preview press conference today, Smith gave a supportive response to St Helens boss Paul Wellens’ comments in the wake of last Saturday’s Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final defeat by Leigh Leopards.
Wellens accused the RFL of letting his players down by taking no action against Leigh forward John Asiata.
Wellens claimed the governing body had “failed in its duty to protect its players” after the match review panel brought no charges against the Leigh man, who was involved in all four incidents.
Paasi suffered knee and ankle damage and will be sidelined for at least nine months. Walmsley (knee) is facing a 12-week layoff, dealing a blow to Saints’ hopes of a fifth successive Betfred Super League title.
Smith - whose team face Leigh at Headingley on Sunday, August 6 - said his first thoughts were with the wounded players.
“It is always sad, in my eyes, when players get injured and they are going to miss the rest of the season, no matter how that injury comes about,” he stated.
“Agnatius Paasi is one of my closest friends in rugby league so to see him playing so well and not able to play is disappointing to me.”
Of Wellens’ remarks, he added: “I don’t know the rulebook enough to know whether rules have been broken, but I’d probably echo some of the thoughts around the game.
“We are putting a lot of attention on what are generally mild high tackles or glancing blows or at times kickers or passers are getting knocked over rather than attacked and they are sort of met with harsh penalties.
“Then something that carries a lot more intent and potentially a lot more injury risk, if the rules aren’t in place to take action, maybe the process needs to be reviewed.
“Maybe it is just tackling in general we need to scrutinise on an on-going basis, more so than stuff just directly related to head and neck, which is where a lot of the attention seems to go.”
Wellens accused Asiata of “tackling in a reckless and dangerous manner” and Smith admitted: “It’s not a tackle tec’ I have ever seen anyone teaching or coaching.
“I have never seen a coach promote that type of thing. It is extremely brave, but also probably dangerous to the tackler itself. Aside from that, I’ll let the powers that be [deal with it].”