Brad Fittler says judiciary should follow NRL lead on dangerous throws

City Origin coach Brad Fittler says it will be the judiciary's responsibility over the next few weeks to prove the NRL is serious about its war on dangerous throws after seven players were charged for them over the Easter weekend's round of matches.

Gold Coast's Matt White, Penrith's Adam Docker and Kevin Kingston, Wests Tigers' Martin Taupau, and Canterbury's Dale Finucane and Tim Browne joined New Zealand's Nathan Friend in being charged for dangerous throws just days after NRL head of football Todd Greenberg warned there would be repercussions for such actions.

Fittler said it would take time on the sidelines to prove the NRL was serious about its campaign.

"From what I saw over the weekend, the message that's coming from the league has to be the same from the judiciary," Fittler said. "If that's the case, it'll take a week for them to change their tackling techniques.

"I think this round snuck up on it but everyone will learn if [players] spend time on the sideline and a kid takes their spot. I think everyone would agree that [eradicating the dangerous throw] is best for the game."

White took an early guilty plea for his grade two dangerous throw charge on Docker on Monday night, and will miss two matches. Docker faces a one-week ban if he pleads guilty to his grade one tackle (with carryover points) on David Taylor; Kingston was also charged with a grade one dangerous throw on Taylor but will escape suspension if he takes the early guilty plea while Taupau will also escape suspension if he takes the early guilty plea. Browne and Finucane both received grade one charges for a tackle on South Sydney’s Ben Lowe, and Friend received the same for his tackle on Dragons' Jason Nightingale.

A video and data analyst, who was not part of the NRL's recent study to make its case for banning dangerous throws, said the "artificial quick play-the-balls" meant the game was on track for anywhere between 120 and 150 penalties for dangerous throws this season – there were 45 in 2012.

"What causes the dangerous throws is when you create artificial play-the-balls, the attacking team pretty much runs from dummy half, or behind the ruck, and the player spears into the ground," Andrew Moufarrige, of Sportsdata, said. "When the players dive headfirst into the ground, they're either going to get a penalty for a high shot, get a quick play-the-ball or get a penalty for a lifting tackle."

Sportsdata statistics show:

  • Penalties for lifting tackles have doubled from 2012 to 2013 from 45 to 87 in the 201 games played;

  • There were 29 lifting tackles in 48 games this year.

  • There has been a 300 per cent increase in the past 18 months following the NRL rule and interpretation changes aimed to gain artificial fast play-the-balls. 

"In 99 State of Origin matches, there have been seven dangerous throw penalties," Moufarrage said. "Seven! Origin is the biggest, hardest contact sport in the world.

"The reason why we haven't had 100 is because of what the attacking team is doing, they're running into you as hard as they can and trying to break through the defensive line, and the defending team is hitting you and trying to get you to the ground as hard as they can.

"Now, because of the rule changes [in the NRL] over the last two seasons, we have the attacking team trying to dive to the ground [for quick play-the-balls] and the defending team trying to hold them up."

The story Brad Fittler says judiciary should follow NRL lead on dangerous throws first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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