Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says he sympathises with Willie Mason and Ben Matulino and has questioned the NRL’s hasty late-season crackdown on shoulder charges.
Manly veteran Mason was suspended for two weeks and Warriors prop Ben Matulino for three, within days of the league introducing automatic bans on no-arm tackles.
The move was prompted by confusion over Sydney Roosters forward Kane Evans’ hit on Canterbury’s Sam Kasiano the previous round, which escaped penalty.
Mason didn’t believe his tackle deserved a ban and hit out at the NRL’s last-minute decision.
“I didn’t even know the rule. You can’t send the rules out and change the rules on a Friday, on a Friday night game,” Mason said on Tuesday.
“Just give us a set of rules at the start of the year where it’s black and white.”
Bellamy on Wednesday repeated his call that shoulder charges were dangerous and needed to be stamped out of the game, but felt for Mason and Matulino.
He said Mason’s tackle was nowhere near as bad as Evans’.
“I can imagine he (Mason) would be, Manly would be, and the Warriors would be as well, a little bit ticked off on why it’s happened this week and why it didn’t happen last week,” he said.
“If I was Willie Mason and Ben Matulino, I’d be a little bit frustrated as well.
“It’s one thing to tighten a rule up or a law up throughout the season but, if the law was already there, why don’t we tighten it up all the way through the season?”
Bellamy said he was just as frustrated with the fact his own young prop, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, was banned for a week for making dangerous contact with Lachlan Barr in Sunday’s win over Gold Coast.
“He has taken the week and he certainly did the wrong thing there, but there’s been that many of those tackles during the year that nothing’s happened and, all of a sudden, you start getting into blokes for that sort of action,” he added.
“As I say, he did the wrong thing, but I could show you tapes of when we played over in Napier of Jess Bromwich – same thing happened to him, and there’s no charges.
“I’m not quite sure why after round 22 we have to tighten everything up. It should be tight all the way along or just let it go as it is all the way along.
“You need to be a bit more consistent, I reckon, but that’s just my opinion.”