Ryan James tackle ‘cheap shot’: Panthers

Penrith players have declared the tackle that ended Reagan Campbell-Gillard’s NRL season a cheap shot.

The Panthers prop remains in hospital and will miss the team’s finals campaign after suffering a broken back in a tackle from Gold Coast forward Ryan James on Saturday.

He isn’t expected back home until the end of the week.

It was the second time in as many weeks James’ tackles ended an opposition player’s season, having broken Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco’s jaw the previous weekend.

James was charged but escaped a ban for the Tedesco incident while the match review committee deemed he had no case to answer over the Campbell-Gillard one.

The Panthers were still furious when they returned to training on Tuesday.

“Yeah, 100 per cent it was a cheap shot,” said winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak told AAP.

“Someone comes in like that, they’re going to hurt someone. I know a lot of the boys are filthy.”

Centre Tyrone Peachey was also fuming, arguing that Campbell-Gillard was unsighted and held in a tackle and so unable to brace himself for the impact and vulnerable to injury.

He expects a rise in players targeting opposition players’ backs in when held in tackles.

“It’s been happening all year and refs aren’t doing anything about it,” Peachey said.

“Something needs to happen there. Having players out for the rest of the season is not a good look for the game.

“There’s going to be people flying in for the rest of the season. He’s out for the rest of the year now and he’s a massive part of our team. This just can’t be happening.”

Second-rower Isaah Yeo was one of several teammates to visit Campbell-Gillard in hospital after the game, and questioned why James got involved in the tackle.

“Reg thought the tackle was over and we all did as well,” said Yeo.

“To come in late and hit him in the back when it wasn’t expected, wasn’t tensed up, you can really see where the problems are going to happen.

“Myself, I just try and pin the legs together so obviously all his weight goes over the top.

“I don’t know what Ryan James is doing in there to be honest. There was already two up top and he went in up top as well, he went in hard above his bum.”

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