LEEDS Rhinos boss Brian McDermott is calling for a debate on whether rugby league’s tackle laws should be changed.
McDermott is concerned the tactic of getting three or four defenders into every tackle – combined with slowing down techniques – is squeezing flair out of the game.
The coach feels allowing only a limited number of defenders in tackles in the opposition’s half would open the game up and encourage more adventurous attacking play.
Wigan prop Jeff Lima was suspended for one match by the Rugby Football League disciplinary committee this week following a gang tackle on Rhinos’ Chris Clarkson in the 22-22 draw at Headingley Carnegie eight days ago.
The committee found Lima guilty of making dangerous contact with the Rhinos back-rower. They decided he had caused Clarkson’s knee joint to move in an “abnormal manner”, causing an unacceptable risk of injury.
McDermott said: “I am not as concerned about the Lima tackle or with Wigan as I am about the governing body being willing to accept that type of technique in our game.
“The one-game ban is an indication that they are comfortable with that type of tackle, they are saying it is a good technique, he just got it slightly wrong.
“I think they have a skewed idea of what toughness is. It is like pinning someone against a wall and beating him up while two other people hold his arms.
“I think there’s a case for putting rules in place so you are only allowed a certain number of men in the tackle – maybe two-man tackles – in the opposition’s half and three-man tackles are outlawed.
“In your own half, when you are defending your line, it should be different. But when you are defending the opposition coming away from their own line, only allowing limited-man tackles would put a bit of uncertainty and risk back into the game.
“That would encourage more offloads and allow teams to break the defence down. At the moment it is almost like we are putting the ball carrier in a box for five carries.”
McDermott – whose side were taking on Hull KR at Craven Park today –added: “One-on-one tackles, when the ball carrier is getting to the ground and playing the ball quickly, create an element of doubt for the defending team.
“That is what we want to see more of. Adding more than two men into the tackle – with the coaching and techniques that are out there – takes an element of doubt away.
“Teams are becoming more proficient at that and I think we have got to be careful of allowing that type of philosophy to continue.”