Terry O'Connor believes Super League should stick with shoulder charging

Last Updated: 18/02/13 9:32am

Julien Bousquet drew criticism for his challenge on teenager Theo Fages

Terry O'Connor told Boots 'n' All the Super League must resist calls to ban shoulder-charging.

A week of brutal Super League action saw several controversial tackles, including contentious challenges from Widnes' Ben Cross, Catalans' Julien Bousquet and Castleford's Rangi Chase.

The Bousquet incident, which knocked out 18-year-old Salford scrum-half Theo Fages, resulted in a third-minute red card for the Frenchman - but O'Connor believes the Super League must be careful not to over-react.

He told Boots: "It's obviously very physical. Ben Cross saying 'Yeah I'm guilty' held his hand up but I'm not so sure on the Julien Bousquet one. The more I see that I just think 'Take your punishment.'

"It was a very difficult challenge and I thought at the time the referee would send him off and he did, even though it was just three minutes into the game.

"The Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous said he won't discourage his players from doing that again but while you can put pressure on half-backs when they're kicking the ball, you've got to give them some protection as well.

"Players are treading close to the line anyway, when they go into a tackle. When they get it wrong when somebody side-steps a bigger lad in the middle of the park and he shoves his arm out - that's just as dangerous.

"If someone's coming off the line and they've got a team-mate either side, think they could dominate the opposition, it's up the player with the ball to beat the defence."

"I've hold my hands out and say I've been knocked out by many a shoulder charge and it has effected me but we don't want to take the excitement out of it."

Terry O'Connor

Excitement

O'Connor, who was a huge physical presence for both Wigan and Great Britain during a stellar career, admits he has suffered from shoulder charges in the past but feels impact is what is required from the game.

He continued: "I've hold my hands out and say I've been knocked out by many a shoulder charge and it has effected me but we don't want to take the excitement out of it. Daryl Powell knocked me out with one at Central Park years ago.

"I think it adds excitement to the game. The majority of players I talk to say they still like it, the ferocity of the game. That's about defence as well. Let's not always be about attacking rugby - we want to see good defensive sides.

"If you're going to do a proper study on this, you're going to have to go back and conduct a study on how many players have suffered serious injuries due to shoulder charges. I would bet it's very minor.

"Isn't it what we turn up to watch? Isn't it what we love? When it's that ferocious and players are flying out of the line."

Argument

Batley coach John Kear offered a different perspective on the issue, highlighting the need to protect the players as the Super League's priority and advocating following the NRL in outlawing the shoulder charge.

Kear said: "Some of the coaches are in favour of it and some of the coaches are against it, but I just feel the governing body has got a duty to players and we've got to look after the players' welfare.

"There's no doubt in my mind that it was a dangerous challenge. I think four games is about right. Just like investments can go down as well as up, the Catalans will know appeals can mean suspensions go up. It might be the wrong thing to do.

"Intimidation, aggression and dominance are all well-used phrases in our game, but you've also got to be safe and there's got to be the matter of correct technique.

"A lot of coaches wouldn't want the players to shoulder-charge because they can fall off. I personally would prefer them to stick and complete the tackle.

"The game's tough enough, hard enough and aggressive enough as well. We've got to remember as well that it's the 10m for offside and that's a heck of a distance for both the ball-carrier and the defensive line to get steam up. It's a big collision."