Crackdown will weed out pretenders: Matai

Steve Matai has given a surprise endorsement to the NRL’s controversial shoulder charge crackdown, saying it will sort out true hitters from the pretenders.

Renowned as one of the hardest hitters in rugby league, Manly centre Matai said it was his brother who convinced him that the rule change was a blessing in disguise.

“He was saying that anybody could put on a shoulder charge and look like a hitter,” Matai said on Wednesday.

“But he said when that got taken out, it’s taken the pretenders out of the game.

“It brings all the true hitters to the forefront of the game.”

While it was just 12 days ago that the NRL announced changes to its shoulder charge laws, Matai said he didn’t need to make any changes his defensive technique.

“If anything, my problem was my arm was too high,” said Matai, whose hit on South Sydney forward David Tyrrell in round 16 is widely considered the biggest legal tackle of the season.

The 31-year-old veteran said he expected players’ tackling techniques across the game to improve.

“When you sit down and look at it properly, anybody can cock your arm and put them in a dangerous position,” Matai said.

“If we use the technique right, we’ll get it right every time.”

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