Willie Mason could become the first target of the NRL’s tightened shoulder charge law for a questionable hit on South Sydney’s Tom Burgess in Manly’s 28-8 win on Friday night.
The incident happened in the 19th minute at Brookvale Oval as Burgess carted the ball out from his own end before being hit hard in a tackle by veteran Sea Eagles prop Mason that forced a handling error from the England forward.
Rabbitohs’ captain Greg Inglis immediately remonstrated with referees Gerard Sutton and Gavin Reynolds, indicating he felt the tackle was a shoulder charge. But the star fullback was ignored and the incident wasn’t put on report nor penalised.
However replays suggested the shot may have been a shoulder charge under the NRL’s laws which banned the controversial tackle in November 2012, as Mason may not have separated his arm from his side as required.
After a week of confusion over Sydney Roosters prop Kane Evans’ shoulder charge on his Canterbury opposite the NRL moved on Friday to “update” its shoulder charge rules.
Evans was penalised and put on report for the tackle but not cited by the match review committee.
Under the revised law, any player who ” commits a shoulder charge using force will be automatically charged by the Match Review Committee from this weekend” the NRL said.
“We need to be clear about this… we cannot allow player welfare to be put at risk by shoulder charges,” NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said.
“A player carrying the ball cannot protect himself properly against the force of a shoulder charge.
“We have seen this type of tackle have tragic consequences recently and the NRL has an obligation to put player safety first.”