Morley punished again while others go free

Anyone who has access to a replay of last Friday Night's clash between the Wests Tigers and Dragons get it out and have a look at the incident just before halftime involving Benji Marshall and Reece Simmonds.

Put it on super slow motion and take a close look where Simmonds? shoulder hits Marshall...

While Simmonds is putting his arms around Marshall in his effort at tackling the Tigers five-eighth look at the top of Simmonds? left shoulder and witness how it collects Marshall on the chin. While the side of Simmonds? head appears to impact on Marshall's cheekbone and thus broke it, it is clear that contact has been made by Simmonds? shoulder with the head of Marshall.

Now with the Adrian Morley hit every comment/report says that the issue is not with intent but the fact Morley?s shoulder made contact with the head of an opponent.

Now I'll go on the record now - Morley did not intend to knock Walker out. It was one of those plays where the playmaker drifts wide into the defence trying to pick out a gap runner and Morley, as Walker's designated defender, slides with him. Walker held the ball longer than he could afford to and not expect not to be tackled. Both player?s momentum resulted in Walker?s head colliding with Morley?s sliding shoulder. There was never any intent on Morley's part to wallop Walker in the melon, but yes (I cannot nor can the Roosters or Morley deny) there was clear and indisputable contact with the head from Morley's shoulder.

Go out next weekend in your game (if you play league/union) and carry the ball on the angle towards the outside of your defender, hold onto it too long, see if you run into the bloke and see if the momentum you and the defender are carrying doesn't result in a significant body clash.

The difference here is Walker almost bends into line and thus Morley's shoulder and as Morley realises Walker still has the ball he shifts some of his weight back towards the way he was coming from. Try running at a good speed and changing your body weight back the other way and see if your shoulder does not dip like Morley?s.

Now if we go back to Marshall and Simmonds quickly and break down that play you?ll find Brett Hodgson takes the ball on the left edge running into half gap. He draws the inside defender leaving Marshall and Simmonds marking up only metres apart close to the sideline. Simmonds rushes in and tries to smash Marshall to shut down the play and to negate the room outside him. The hospital pass Hodgson delivers does not help Marshall at all but Simmonds intends to rush in and close down the play.

Simmonds launches himself (sadly not quite in the Martin Masella/Tongan Torpedo style) towards Marshall to wrap the ball up, hits Marshall hard and does the job to stop the play. But since his shoulder connects with Marshall's chin (so his head) and his own head connects with Marshall's cheekbone (which results in the fracture) ? does that not entail attacking the head of an opponent.

Now if the issue here regarding suspension is purely intent then I believe Morley should have been exonerated.

But the issue being used as reasoning for the two week suspension Morley will serve is simply that significant contact with the head of the attacker was made by the shoulder of the defender - then why was Reece Simmonds praised for his intentional ball and all tackle on Marshall and Morley is chastised yet again as the villain when there was no intent in his clash with Walker outside of containing (not laying out the ball carrier) Walker?s run with the football.

If I was any kind of judiciary I would have let Adrian Morley off on the basis of a clear lack of intent regardless of the contact made. The circumstances certainly showed he had no desire to flatten Walker in a tackle otherwise he would have rushed out and made short work of Walker. But had he done that and not completed the tackle he would have been criticised for not sliding across and for rushing out with a low percentage play. So in essence Morley does the right thing defensively and is now on the sidelines for two weeks because of it. Reece Simmonds (Beau Champion etc) also made the right play in his game but showed far more intent to come in and level Benji Marshall.

So what is the argument? Is it simply Intent vs. Contact or a combination of both? Either way if Morley is on the sidelines then Simmonds and probably a good number of players from the weekend matches should be as well.

But this is the NRL judiciary we're talking about so...


Look out for the NSC Rugby League Almanac, comprising every player at each club, to be launched soon on League Unlimited.

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