LEEDS RHINOS boss Brian McDermott has accused Wigan Warriors rival Shaun Wane of putting his own team’s interests before player safety.
A row has blown up between the pair following a “dangerous” tackle on Leeds’ Adam Cuthbertson by Wigan’s Taulima Tautai during Rhinos’ win at Headingley Carnegie last week.
Speaking after the game, McDermott said such tackles – when a third defender targets the limbs of an opponent as he is being held upright in a tackle – are potential “leg-snappers”.
The match officials took no action, but Tautai was charged by the RFL’s match review panel. He denied the offence, but was banned for two games after a disciplinary hearing. The suspension was halved on appeal and Wane then accused the Leeds club of trying to influence the disciplinary process.
Wane told the Wigan Evening Post: “Some of the comments from Leeds after the game – and before the match review panel – massively influenced everything, which I think is really poor and disappointing. You can’t comment after a game about something that happened, without a doubt the match review panel saw those comments and acted on it and it’s not on.
“It’s not the right thing to do, it’s really, really poor.”
Following Rhinos’ win at Hull KR, which secured four home games in the middle-eights Qualifiers, McDermott fired back and insisted he “one million per cent” does not regret his remarks. McDermott said his “supposed rant” after the Wigan match had not been against Wane or Tautai and he stressed his concern is to get cannonball-type tackles removed from the sport.
“I am speaking as a bloke who does not want to see those tackles in the game,” McDermott said. “I am not speaking as head coach of Leeds Rhinos, I am talking about where our game needs to be. If Shaun Wane is genuinely saying ‘don’t speak about this because we want to get away with it’ and he wants to keep getting away with that type of tackle, I am coming back and saying you shouldn’t be using those type of techniques.
“I don’t want to see those techniques. What Tautai tries to do is a legal version, he tries to pin the legs, I’m presuming. I do hope he’s not going in there with a carefree attitude to break his leg. I think the phrase he [Wane] used was poor form. I think it’s poor form from him to put his players’ eligibility first before the game and player safety.”
McDermott claimed some players are now scared to stand in a tackle because of the potential of a leg injury. He said: “What sort of game allows that? What sort of game tries to promote that by the way it handles the punishments for that?”
McDermott was not surprised to see Tautai’s ban halved on appeal. He added: “He’s defending himself. If you go in there and you’ve got a reasonable defence, go for it. It’s not about Tautai, it’s not even about the disciplinary – it’s about what the game wants. This is an area of the game I feel we could get rid of overnight by an interpretation of the rule – you can’t add on to the knee or below once someone else is in contact with the player.”
In 2012 Wane said he expected Leeds’ Danny McGuire to be banned for a high tackle in a game against Catalans Dragons. He was suspended for the following week’s play-offs victory at Wigan.