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Latrell Mitchell didn’t miss Joey Manu at the end of last season, but he still misses the point with his “I don’t need to change, the game needs to change” comments about his suspension.
As he toured the media, he also claimed that rugby league is becoming like Oztag because it’s supposed to lose its aggressiveness and “there are fractions of a second you can’t control”.
Yes, it was a split-second incident that cost him six matches, including South Sydney’s playoff campaign that ended in a narrow loss to Penrith.
But it was also reckless and the sickening clash left Manu with multiple fractures to his eye socket and cheekbone, ending his season as his team also vied for the title.
Ironically, he had a boost to the NRL on the same day the governing body gave in to South Sydney’s demands to cut Mitchell’s return date by a week by including the All Stars game in its six-day ban. matches.
He will now return in the second round against Melbourne rather than the following week when the Rabbitohs resume hostilities with his former club the Roosters.
And it’s no surprise that since it became known that Mitchell had included the All Stars in his suspension, the Storm and Warriors have sent letters to Rugby League Central for the same policy to apply to Reece Walsh and Brandon Smith, who were reportedly shoo-ins for the Maori team.
The difference with Smith and Walsh is that they are out for one and two rounds respectively, both for being caught with white powder while partying. Walsh was arrested by police for possession of cocaine while Smith and Storm’s bandmates Cameron Munster and Chris Lewis never identified the nature of the substance they were filmed with at a Mad Monday party.
Coincidentally, Walsh is also serving a one-game suspension for participating in a nasty Warriors-Titans brawl late last year as part of his first-two-round absence.
When you open a loophole, you leave yourself open and the NRL has changed the rules on and off the pitch several times over the past few years.
You can be sure that the next time an NRL club has a 17-year-old who they think is ready for the rigors of the first year, they will be kicking down the doors of head office to get the same exemption they have. given to Roosters prodigy Joseph. Suaalii last year.
Mitchell was right when he said the court process “is a bit unfair.”
It’s possible, to a certain extent, but it’s much better than previous versions.
Prior to the introduction of the points system in the late 1990s, there was much more controversy surrounding bans imposed by the judiciary when every quoted player had to appear in court to determine their fate.
There were constant cries of “it’s a lottery” and “there’s no consistency” as players faced wildly different spells on the sidelines for similar incidents.
Mitchell’s beef is with the loading for prior incidents where players have 50% added to a ban if they had a similar offense or 20% for other incidents from the previous two years.
These figures can probably be reduced by a fraction, but the fact is that the system is designed to punish repeat offenders and the NRL has not apologized for this for many years.
Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett also recently delved into the process to defend his forward Jack Hetherington, who has been one of the worst repeat offenders in recent seasons and faces a lengthy ban even though charged with the charges. the lowest rated.
Hetherington needs to change because the system is not going to bend to protect players who continually engage in unfair acts.
There is also the significant issue of the threat of legal action over concussion-related incidents which makes not just the NRL, but any contact sports governing body, extremely wary of being perceived as tolerating practices. that cause head injuries.
Mitchell would have been better served had he suggested that the point system for missing games be changed.
As it stands, 100 points equals a one-game ban, whether it’s a regular season, Finals, or Representative game, but they don’t count for tryouts. .
A better method would be to increase the threshold for a player to miss a playoff or rep game, double it to 200 so that someone who accidentally makes a tier one high tackle in September or just before an origin or a test is not punished. much harsher in relative terms than someone who draws the same accusation at other times.
And lower it to 50 points per game for tries, with a maximum of two for any pre-season player (nobody plays All Stars plus the two club games), so that’s clear and net as to who can play or not.
The current setup allows players who have been banned for a Level 2 offense or lower to participate in tryouts before serving their regular season suspension.
Dragons veteran Josh McGuire, another repeat offender who is banned until the sixth round due to two high-level tackling fouls, was able to play in last Sunday’s trial against Parramatta but will not be seen on the pitch again until the April 17.