Pile Drivers

Hubie Abbott, Souths Brisbane, executes a classic driving tackle

Hubie Abbott, Souths Brisbane, executes a classic driving tackle

BULLDOGS centre, Krisnan Inu had little choice but to plead guilty to a dangerous throw charge, but his lifting effort on Souths superstar, Greg Inglis would barely rate a mention on the list of worst ‘spear tackle’ atrocities in rugby league history.
The spear tackle was once legal, and was applied with force that was missing in Inu’s effort on Inglis.
Hark back to the 1930s when Toowoomba wrecking ball, Herb Steinohrt would lift players and then drive them, head first, into often rock hard fields while holding the back of their footy shorts.
There is photographic proof of Steinohrt’s style.
The worst spear tackle I have seen made the front page of Rugby League Week.
The ‘offender’ (although he wasn’t penalised) was Balmain’s Allan McMahon with Newtown centre, Mick Ryan on the receiving end.
When you see the photograph of the tackle you wonder how Ryan didn’t become a paraplegic. It was sickening, and RLW reported it that way.
Those people who followed my column in ‘The Courier-Mail’ would be aware of my distaste for the spear tackle, especially as I was on the receiving end of two ‘beauties’ in one game at the Murwillumbah Showgrounds in 1968 when I was a pencil thin, 15-year-old  fullback playing under-18s for Brothers against Mullumbimby.
Mullum’s prop, ‘Cats’ Moroney, got me both times just after I had fielded high balls.
That’s when I discovered there were people known as chiropractors.
Now, just in case you think I am unfairly maligning ‘Cats’, it is sad, but true, that as I advanced in years and through the grades I was guilty of the odd spear tackle.
But they were a case of momentum taking the ball runner into the air, rather than a deliberate lifting motion.
Of course, I could have pulled out of the tackle, but it just wasn’t done in those days.
Inu was ‘gone’ (and so was Inglis) as soon as he put his arm between the legs and lifted, but there was no force in the return to the ground.
And the players are so supple these days, I had every confidence ‘GI’ would get up.
The tackles which really make me grimace are those where the third man comes in low at the legs while two others hold the ball runner.
It is rare now that players come in with unreasonable force, but it is still an ugly, dangerous practice in my view, and something you can tell the ball runners detest.
As for touching the referees?
It is inexcusable, unless of course it is a total accident.
Broncos skipper, Sam Thaiday may have been showing the referee what happened to him in a scrum when he grabbed his jersey, but would Sam have head butted the referee if that was what happened to him back at the scrum?
That might be taking things to a ridiculous extreme, but how about this?
If a kid in the schoolyard had his shirt torn, what would be the reaction if he showed the teacher what happened by tearing at his shirt?

Probably not much these days.
That’s another story. Or is it?

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