Manly veteran Willie Mason has taken aim at the NRL over its hastily-introduced, stricter shoulder charge rules after copping a two-match ban.
Mason’s punishment for a seemingly-innocuous tackle on South Sydney’s Tom Burgess was in contrast to that meted out to Canberra prop David Shillington, who escaped a ban on Tuesday despite being sent off for headbutting Aaron Woods.
Former Test star Mason will miss surging Manly’s matches against Canberra and Parramatta, after taking the early plea on a grade one shoulder charge.
His tackle on Burgess last Friday came only hours after the NRL beefed up the shoulder charge rules following a week of confusion after Roosters forward Kane Evans was not charged for his hit on Sam Kasiano.
“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,” said Mason.
“Just give us a set of rules at the start of the year where it’s black and white.”
Mason didn’t believe his tackle on big fellow prop Burgess deserved a ban.
“I don’t think any of you blokes (journalists) have tried to tackle any of the Burgess brothers – you just try to do your best. I don’t think there was anything wrong with it,” he said.
Shillington became the first NRL player to be sent off since Newcastle’s Kade Snowden in round 14, 2013, when he was dismissed by referee Jared Maxwell after appearing to headbutt Woods during Monday’s night’s loss to the Tigers.
The former Kangaroos front-rower received a grade one contrary conduct charge and an early guilty plea meant he escaped a ban.
Shillington’s teammate Joseph Leilua on Tuesday became the latest player targeted in the crackdown on the shoulder charge.
He made an early guilty plea on a grade one charge for a hit on Tigers forward Kyle Lovett and will miss Sunday’s home match against Manly.
Glenn Stewart will miss South Sydney’s big NRL clash with North Queensland on Thursday after accepting a one-match ban for his careless high tackle on former Manly teammate Steve Matai.