The Melbourne Storms much maligned ‘grapple tackle’ has reared its ugly head again, this time in Round 22, 2007 against the Brisbane Broncos.

The Broncos claiming that not only were the ‘grapple tackles’ from Melbourne constant throughout the match; the force of the tackles were more like ‘sleeper holds’ rather than ‘grapple tackles.’

The frustration from both teams in the NRL match of spite could be seen bubbling over from midway through the first half. The obvious connections between the two sides make for an interesting contest – the Storm having plenty of Queensland players; and linked to the north state through their QRL feeder team. It doesn’t end there, Storm coach Craig Bellamy a former under study of Wayne Bennett at the Broncos and he loves nothing more than notching up big wins against his former club.

The Broncos captain Petero Civoniceva was regularly approaching Sean Heampstead in an effort to cut out the sleeper holds from Melbourne; the usually straight and narrow Brisbane side resorting to dirty and niggly tactics themselves to combat the Storm infringements. Late in the match Brisbane Broncos players were urging themselves to ‘smack’ opposition players; targeting Matt King and Greg Inglis over their alleged sleeper tactics.

Brisbane went so far as to suggest the constant sleeper holds forced injury to their players; with Greg Eastwood buckling awkwardly as he was held tightly in a Melbourne special.

It takes you back to the good old days; or bad old days – which ever way you saw it; where such calls as ‘The Cumberland Throw’ or the ‘Brooky Bash Up’ were commonplace – referring to the Parramatta Eels unusual trackling or tripping style and the heavy handed tactics one could expect from Manly at various stages.

Wayne Bennett refused to buy into the debate – but Broncos players were adamant; the Storm ‘sleeper’ tactics are regular instances in their game and hard to police as many of the illegal holds were done under the cover of teammate or gang tackles.

With the Melbourne Storm performing so well in the last few years; maybe struggling coaches should employ the services of WWE or other wrestling experts; as the ‘sleeper hold’ or ‘choke hold’ might get them out of the NRL cellar and into the NRL Top 8.

By ricky

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