The shoulder charge debate has reared its ugly head again, following the Greg Inglis shoulder charge on Dean Young – with leading sports doctors all believing the same thing. The shoulder charge should be banned.
It has been in the game for a total of 104 years, but with the increasing number of shoulder charges, and the subsequent injuries that occur from them – club doctors want it banned.
A committee to consider the possibility, will be fronted by former Sydney Roosters Chief Executive Brian Canavan, and will include ex-rugby league doctor Hugh Hazard, NRL Chief Medical Officer Ron Muratore, Principal Scientist at the NSW Institute of Sport Kenneth Graham, and Donna O’Connor, an associate professor at Sydney University.
Sam Sorrenti, who is an Orthopedic Surgeon, as well as the spokesman Rugby League Medical Officer’s Association for club doctors, said that the shoulder charge has to be banned.
“It is only a matter of time before there is a major disaster,” Sorrenti said.
“It’s very dangerous and if it goes wrong, there can be terrible concussion. There is no point reacting after something has gone wrong. We don’t want to turn rugby league into a sissy’s game but we have a duty of care for the players’ welfare.
“Our job is to warn the NRL of the potential problems. It’s up to the NRL to take that advice. The rules need to be modified ASAP to protect the players’ long-term wellbeing.”
Canavan, who along with the others will base their report and findings using evidence from all shoulder charges, hopes to have it achieved in the coming weeks.
“We will do it thoroughly and it will be all evidence-based rather than opinion,” Canavan said.
Another staunch advocate in favour of banning the shoulder charge, is Michael Johnson, who was the Eels Doctor for 33 years.
“It should be banned because of the risk to the head and neck,” Johnson said.
“It’s becoming an epidemic now – it is the current-day stiff arm tackle. I don’t think it will be long before there is a serious neck or brain injury. Players hit repeatedly in the head will be punch-drunk 20 years after they stop playing.”
Nathan McGuirk, the NRL’s Director of Football, confirmed that the dreaded shoulder charge was in fact under scrutiny.
“It is too early to come to any conclusion but hopefully it will be completed by the end of the year,” he said.