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Fa'aoso to test NRL shoulder charge ban

Rugby league's ban on the shoulder charge faces a test of credibility on Wednesday night when Manly prop Richie Fa'aoso challenges the parameters of the crackdown at the NRL judiciary.
Fa'aoso to test NRL shoulder charge ban
by AAP

EDS: Takes in earlier RL Judiciary story

By Steve Jancetic and Joe Barton

SYDNEY, March 26 AAP - Rugby league's ban on the shoulder charge faces a test of credibility on Wednesday night when Manly prop Richie Fa'aoso challenges the parameters of the crackdown at the NRL judiciary.

Fa'aoso will head to Rugby League Central to face the judiciary, where he will seek to secure a downgrade on the dangerous contact charge which threatens to wipe him out for four matches.

A successful hearing would cut Fa'aoso's ban to just one game - for an off-the-ball tackle which concussed Gold Coast back-rower Ashley Harrison and forced the former Queensland Origin star to leave the field in a neck brace.

In the first case to go to the judiciary following the off-season ban on the shoulder charge, the Sea Eagles appear set to claim Harrison's injuries were the result of an accidental head clash rather than a shoulder hit.

Just how that argument sits with a league desperate to eradicate the spectacular yet dangerous tactic remains to be seen, given one of the main reasons for banning the shoulder charge was because of the propensity for the tackle to go wrong.

Replays seem to indicate the whiplash action caused by Fa'aoso's hit caused the impact between the two players' heads.

It is believed the NRL judiciary prosecutor will argue there would not have been a head clash if not for the shoulder charge taking place.

The NRL's crackdown is seemingly struggling to get through to many players, with Fa'aoso himself admitting after the game that he wasn't conscious of the ban when he took out Harrison.

"To be honest, you just forget about it sometimes," Fa'aoso said.

South Sydney backrower Ben Te'o, who was last year banned for two games when a shoulder charge gone wrong knocked out Wests Tigers youngster Matt Groat, claimed it was difficult to simply turn off the tap on attempting the tackle.

"In the heat of the battle, you're a bit fatigued and you see an opportunity," Te'o said.

"There's a split second whether you take it or not ... in the heat of the moment, you don't think about 'oh it's banned' - you just want to put your body in front and stop a try."

Despite that, Te'o backed moves to rid the game of such a dangerous tackle.

"I definitely support the ban of the shoulder charge," he said.

Rabbitohs teammate Sam Burgess last week admitted he would happily give away the now mandatory penalty for committing a shoulder charge if it meant preventing a try - which is what Souths winger Nathan Merritt did in the round-two win over Cronulla.

The charge against Fa'aoso comes in the same week the NRL unveiled a study that revealed players were 70 times more at risk of being injured by a shoulder charge than a regulation tackle.




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