Watching Nick Cotric’s tackle on Tim Lafai in real time, no more than 20 metres away from me as I called the game on Sunday night, I stated on air that he would be sent off.
I described the tackle as a spear tackle and have copped a fair bit for that description. It was a tackle that went horribly wrong with Lafai landing on the back of his neck. To his credit, he got to his feet straight away, lucky not be seriously injured.
On replay it is clear that Cotric is also falling so he has no control over the tackle.
It needs to be said that Cotric is an incredibly polite and decent person and would have been horrified had Lafai been seriously injured. There was definitely no malice in the tackle and no intent to harm. The speed in which the tackle was made with both players battling for the ascendancy contributed to the outcome.
Ricky Stuart was quick to make sure Cotric was mentally okay given the gravity of the situation and did his best to defend his player in the post-match press conference.
I stand by my comments at the time of the tackle that it deserved a send off and this has been backed up by the match review committee’s decision to ban him for three weeks with an early plea.
I can understand the Raiders being upset given the NRL’s inconsistency this season.
In the same game against the Dragons, a coat hanger tackle was performed on Jarrod Croker by Mikaele Ravalawa, the St George Illawarra winger. The offending player was allowed to stay on the field.
In the Raiders game against Parramatta, a tackle by Peni Terepo’s on the Raiders’ winger, Jordan Rapana, resulted in Rapana being forced from the field with a broken nose. He was lucky not to have suffered a broken jaw, yet Terepo was allowed to stay on the field before later being suspended for four weeks.
Both incidents should have resulted in send-offs.
The Hudson Young suspension for an accidental eye-gouge is hard to fathom when compared to the penalty imposed on North Queensland’s Josh McGuire. McGuire received a fine for raking the face of Manly’s Dylan Walker. Previously, McGuire had eye-gouged the Storm’s Cameron Munster, but once again he received just a financial penalty.
It is the inconsistently in the penalties imposed that is the real issue here. Until that perception changes, there will continue to be unrest.