So much was said about the grapple tackle during NRL season 2007, with the Storm using the tackle and hold technique to become the masters of the ruck. While they deny focusing specifically on this area, there is no question they pioneered it and every other club rushed to either play catch up or cry foul.
After much press in relation to the grapple tackle and the crusher tackle which followed, the NRL moved quickly to stamp out the technique giving referees more power and looking to put an end to it before serious injury followed. As we approach kick off for the 2008 NRL season, rumours are doing the rounds that a club has developed a new technique nicknamed the ‘pinner’. While only speculation at this stage, the mail suggests that at least one club is looking to get multiple players in to tackles to exploit pressure points and joint locks to reduce movement or completion speed of the tackle.
With one or two players tackling and holding a ball runner, a third defender could wreak havoc but exploiting pressure points or restraining joints into a lock position. The closest we have seen to this ‘pinner’ tackle was in the 2007 NRL finals series, when Melbourne played Parramatta in the Grand Final Qualifier – Nathan Cayless was caught up in a horrific situation during a tackle. As Cayless was tackled and held down by an initial Storm player, Melbourne forward Jeremey Smith pulled and pinned Cayless’ arm back behind him. The attempted tackle slowdown was successful and you can see on the video footage Cayless resenting the joint lock and chasing Smith in back play. On this occasion Cayless actually suffered a minor injury, but didn’t have to back up the next week after a loss.
While injury, no matter how serious is the major concern for clubs and supporters – it’s only natural that clubs look for an edge to give them the upperhand in season ahead. Any minor advantage can prove so valuable as results are always tight in modern day NRL.
As speculation grows about the new tackling concepts, NRL enforcers: referees boss Robert Finch and chief operations officer Graham Annesley are aiming to be proactive about the possible outbreak of any dangerous new trends and believe the referee’s have ample room to police any developments under the contrary conduct rule.