Storm told: no more ?grapple?


The Melbourne Storm continue to use the so-called ?grapple-tackle?, despite a pre-season directive from the National Rugby League that such tackles would be met with harsh penalties.

The illegal tackle, which involves several defenders getting the ball-carrier in a headlock while on the ground, will be targeted this week in the Storm?s match against the Dragons.

NRL Referees Boss Robert Finch has warned Storm coach Craig Bellamy that a number of his players will be watched during the weekend?s match.

The re-emergence of the issue has stemmed from several complaints from Newcastle Knights players during their match against the Storm on Sunday.

As many as six video examples of the technique were sent to Finch by Knights coach Michael Hagan for explanation.

No on-field action was taken by referee Shayne Hayne at the time, but Finch said he was concerned after viewing ?a number of incidents? during match.

Hagan said he would prefer to leave the issue with Finch to deal with.

"The bottom line is they are dangerous and everyone has been made aware the practice has been outlawed," he said.

The controversy surrounding the tackling style first emerged last season when complaints were made about its use during a match between Melbourne and the Canberra Raiders.

Following the match, Storm coach Craig Bellamy insisted that the tackling style was widely used by most clubs.

Bellamy told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, that Finch re-assured him there was nothing illegal in their defensive technique.

?We're not changing anything,? Bellamy said after the 2003 match against Canberra.

?I spoke to Robert on Saturday, I spoke to Robert again yesterday and as he said to me - and I think he's said this publicly - he's got no problem with this so-called grapple so I can't see the problem.?

?I think it's come about because of the era of gang tackles where you've got three or four in a tackle at some stage?.

Since that incident last year, the NRL have changed their policy regarding the dangerous technique.

The pre-season directive to all clubs was that harsh penalties would apply to players or clubs found to be using the ?grapple? style of tackle. Finch told News Ltd that he spoke to Bellamy yesterday and made the coach aware of the standards that were required.

?I worked quite a bit with him [Bellamy] during the off-season on it and he has been working hard to eradicate it from their game.?

?It's only a small minority of their players at fault -- it is certainly not the majority. "A few of them are just struggling to come to terms with what we require.?

Finch has told referee Paul Simpkins to be on the look out for the tackle during the weekend?s match between the Storm and the Dragons.