The NRL have announced that any player who commits a shoulder charge with force will be suspended for at least one game, effective immediately.
The change to the rules comes after Sydney Roosters forward Kane Evans escaped sanction for his monster hit that floored Canterbury prop Sam Kasiano last week.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said changes needed to be made to remove any ambiguity on whether a shoulder charge should draw a charge from the match review commitee.
While the NRL had already made the shoulder charge illegal, the existing rules meant offenders could escape a charge if there was no forceful movement of the tackled person’s head or neck.
Greenberg said the rule would be simplified to require any shoulder charge with force to be charged automatically.
“We need to be clear about this… we cannot allow player welfare to be put at risk by shoulder charges,” Greenberg said in a statement.
“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.”
Greenberg said players found guilty of shoulder charges risked lengthy suspensions.
A grade one shoulder charge offence carries a base penalty of 200 points and more serious breaches can result in suspensions of up to eight matches or more.
“In other words, anyone found guilty of using a shoulder charge with force will be suspended for at least one match,” he said.
“So there will be a real incentive for players and coaches to ensure that shoulder charges are taken out of the game.”