Leeds Rhinos: O’Loughlin ban highlights the inconsistencies in the process – Ablett

Sean O'Loughlin of Wigan Warriors is red carded against Wakefield last week.
Sean O'Loughlin of Wigan Warriors is red carded against Wakefield last week.
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THERE has been a lot of uproar about Sean O’Loughlin only receiving a one-game ban for that high shot on Wakefield’s Chris Annakin and I can understand the frustration it has caused.

I’ve played with Lockers for England and he’s definitely not a dirty player; he plays the game tough and is one of those you want alongside you.

He gets stuck in and puts his body on the line but we can all see in the video that he catches Annakin around the head. It is a bad tackle but I don’t think Lockers ever said it wasn’t. He pleaded guilty.

However, there has been some drama about the length of that suspension and that’s where people are getting upset.

The way disciplinaries are handled is definitely something that needs to be looked at in our sport and the inconsistencies we find.

You go up there and never know what you’re going to get when it comes to bans and the charges are sometimes confusing.

We certainly need an improved system of working things and I think the way they work it on points in the NRL is probably a better method.

In the past, on the couple of occassions I’ve been up there, you go in and present your case but know you’ll never ever get off; it is more like a sentencing and you really have to try and prove you’re not guilty rather than the other way around.

I remember Rob Burrow got a one-game ban for the most innocuous ‘crusher’ tackle you’ll ever see.

Here’s a bloke who’s never been sent-off in his 15-year career, is charged only very rarely with any foul play and hardly ever even gives a penalty away, but he got a ban for something or nothing. We were left scratching our heads about that one. This year things seemed to have turned a bit where players have gone up there and got fewer games than expected or even got off, so I’m not sure if they have changed the emphasis on what they are looking for.

But it is the inconsistencies in the rulings that is maddening for most people.

There is some talk that bans should be increased if a player is injured during an illegal challenge as Annakin is now out for 12 weeks after rupturing knee ligaments falling when O’Loughlin struck.

It has been done before earlier this season but I think it is dangerous to go down that line. I think you have to punish the tackle, not the outcome.

It’s hard on the player that he is now out for so long but I don’t see how you can add on games for the transgressor; it would be a minefield.

O’Loughlin sits out his one-game ban when Wigan come to us tonight.

We’re wise enough to know they’ve got plenty of wins without him before so we won’t be thinking it will be any easier.

I think Wigan beat us at Magic Weekend a couple of years ago when he was missing and they came to Headingley not long ago with a depleted side and won.

They’ll probably be getting motivation from all the stuff flying around about their captain and I’m sure Shaun Wane will have them fired up ready to make a statement.

Wigan are unbeaten in eight games and you have got to give them credit.

When you look at the injuries they’ve had they have managed to stay consistent; they’ve stuck in there at the top of the table and, though probably not as free-scoring as they’d like, they have ground out results. They’ve given plenty of youngsters their chance, too, and the way they have gone about things says plenty about them as a club.

But we’re obviously in a great place after our win at leaders Hull FC last week.

It’s not like Hull even played badly – Marc Sneyd had the ball on a string at times – but we really showed some spirit, hung in there, out-scored them four tries to two and showed some really encouraging signs.

Now we need to carry that on against Wigan.

Ryan Hall in action during the Rugby League World Cup. PIC: PA

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