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Burgess backs use of shoulder charge

The NRL's shoulder charge ban appears to have missed the mark, with South Sydney powerhouse Sam Burgess claiming there was little deterrent in using the tactic.
Burgess backs use of shoulder charge
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, March 20 AAP - The NRL's shoulder charge ban appears to have missed the mark, with South Sydney powerhouse Sam Burgess claiming there was little deterrent in using the tactic.

The NRL's crackdown on the spectacular tackling method reached a crossroad on Monday night, when Rabbitohs winger Nathan Merritt hammered Cronulla's Matthew Wright close to tryline.

Merritt prevented a try as a result of a shoulder charge, and Burgess - who described Merritt's try-saver as "a good tackle" - said he would do the same in similar circumstances.

Because he didn't make contact with Wright's head, Merritt was not charged as a result of the hit, with his only punishment being a penalty.

"You'd rather give a penalty away than a try being scored against you," Burgess said.

"I think it's a very fine line, especially when there's two players diving for the corner.

"I think it's a tough position to be in as a player and the officials as well."

Teammate John Sutton was less forthcoming as to whether he would use the shoulder charge.

But asked if he would give away a penalty to save a try, Sutton said: "Definitely.

"You don't want them to score, but all within the rules."

The NRL clamped down on the tactic after a series of head injuries to players as a result of mis-timed shoulder charges last season.

A majority of players, including Burgess, claimed the NRL went too far with the ban, claiming stiffer penalties when a shoulder charge made contact with the head would have been a better approach.

The Rabbitohs welcome back Burgess for Sunday's match against Penrith at Centrebet Stadium after the Englishman served a one-game ban for a high tackle on Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

Pearce was treated by Roosters medical officials as a result of the hit in the NRL season opener, after which Burgess was put on report.

Burgess admitted to still being miffed by the ban, and called on the NRL to ensure players were not rewarded for staying down.

"I don't think there was too much in it," Burgess said.

"You could pick five of them from each game each week, I think. Just because a player gets injured, we seem to take more notice of it.

"I just hope we don't get in a situation where a player starts staying down."

Either way, Burgess said he wouldn't be tempering his aggressive approach, which included a bone-rattling hit on returning Roosters star Sonny Bill Williams.

"I don't want to miss football so you've got to be aware of contact with the head but, certainly, I don't feel I need to change my game," Burgess said.

"I'm not going to change my technique or anything. I don't think it's anything to worry about."


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