Paul Gallen believes the game’s intimidation factor is being taken away.
Paul Gallen believes the game’s intimidation factor is being taken away.

Player welfare crackdown is messing with ‘fabric of game’

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen has backed up calls from Phil Gould that the fabric of the game is at risk of being lost.

Gallen echoed Gould's sentiments after Broncos enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior was sin-binned for a tackle on Penrith's James Maloney.

Gould claimed the game would be "dead in 20-years" if lawyers had their way and Gallen believes the intimidation factor is being taken out of the game.

"We don't want to see people getting hit in the head, we don't want to see crusher tackles, but I think a lot of what Gus said last week was referring to the Pangai Junior tackle," Gallen told Nine's 100% Footy.

 

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"His aggression at trying to get on top of Jimmy Maloney. He did end up in an awkward position but it was incidental, it wasn't an intentional act, he did not try to hurt his neck.

"For Pangai to be sitting out for five weeks for that tackle, the people who run the game need to be very careful that they're not messing with the fabric of the game.

"This game is not for everyone. I've said it before, this game is not for everyone. We can't keep trying to please everyone."

Gallen believes the push to make rugby league safe and available for everyone is messing with what makes the game so successful.

"I coach a junior league team, an underage team, it's a far cry from what we're talking about now," Gallen said.

"I can see at that level rugby league is not for all kids, it's just not. You can just see, some kids have got it, some kids don't.

"It's the same as when we get to our level. People can handle it and there's people who can't. The people who are running the game have got to be careful they're not messing with the fabric of the game."

Veteran journalist Danny Weidler revealed that the NRL was planning to meet with clubs and powerbrokers to review its policies in the off-season.

 

Tevita Pangai Jr’s season could be over as he faces a five week suspension.
Tevita Pangai Jr’s season could be over as he faces a five week suspension.

 

According to Weidler, coaches are supportive of the focus on player welfare.

"Gus really set tongues wagging with his talk about the way the game is going, and the brutality or intimidation being gone," Weidler said.

"He's getting a lot of support form the playing group. I think a lot of players back what he's saying but there are coaches in the game who are already saying that they want more action to eliminate concussions from the game.

"They want head-highs gone. They want stronger suspensions. They want the send off to become a big thing back in rugby league.

"This will be raised with Todd Greenberg, with the NRL in the off-season…they're probably going to say 'Well we want the game to change'."

Pangai is expected to fight the charge at the judiciary - a risky ploy given he could miss five weeks - with Steve 'Blocker' Roach backing his decision to dispute it.

"It was a tackle gone wrong, Roach told Fox League's Controversy Corner. "There's no hands on Maloney, he's getting up to go again. It's a bad tackle, but I'm saying if I'm coaching and he (Maloney) is getting up to run the ball again, I'm saying that you've got to finish him off. He's fair game. That's an accident."