Taupau walks after his high tackle on Ray Stone. Photo: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne
Taupau walks after his high tackle on Ray Stone. Photo: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne

Kent: Overhaul the entire judiciary process

Sam Thaiday's reputation as third man in was well established among the NSW players.

And you bet they grew increasingly irritated by it.

This was back in the days when punching was allowed and there was a natural justice in the game. It might not have been entirely lawful but it had the effect of regulating much of the foul play.

Thaiday was throwing his weight around, though, and seemed to be getting away with it somewhat too much. So before one Origin game Steve Roach called on the Blues to put Thaiday in his place.

 

Is this when Gallen got his Thaiday trophy?
Is this when Gallen got his Thaiday trophy?

 

Almost as an afterthought Roach, who was never afraid to impart his own justice in his own heyday, added that he wanted to see someone come off with some of Thaiday's hair, too.

The Blues got home in solid victory and were celebrating in the dressing room afterwards when Paul Gallen reached into his sock and pulled out the trophy, a great dreadlock of hair that once belonged to Thaiday.

It topped celebrations off.

Times change, though.

So many cameras surround the field and so much income is delivered through the broadcast deal that the game's new values have to reflect that people might be watching.

 

 

And so the great argument from the weekend is how a judiciary system can deliver an outcome where Marty Taupua knocks Ray Stone stone cold, and gets a week for it, while Sam Burgess in a moment of small fury also faces a week for pulling Billy Smith's hair.

They seem hardly comparable.

It has led to calls by some to abandon the current judicial system altogether. Send them up like they did in the old days and let the judiciary decide the consequences.

Elsewhere, old hard heads and some not so hard heads have questioned what the game is coming to when a player can miss a week for pulling hair.

As usual, the solution is somewhere in the middle.

 

Taupau walks after his high tackle on Ray Stone. Photo: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne
Taupau walks after his high tackle on Ray Stone. Photo: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne

 

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has promised a review of the judiciary system after the season and it must not be a small one.

Major surgery is required.

The Taupau and Burgess charges are all the evidence needed.

It is hard to believe there are seven more serious tackles than what Taupua delivered on poor Ray Stone, and only two less serious.

To qualify for the three grades of reckless or three grades of intentional (with referred after that), it seems the match review committee won't be satisfied until a head lands in row three.

The match review committee got itself in this spot through its history of weak decisions. Combined, they have created an extensive database of "comparables" that the game now leans on to determine grading.

 

Bill Smith confronts Burgess after the game. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Bill Smith confronts Burgess after the game. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

Comparing previous incidents is an attempt to find consistency within the system.

But it fails because the match review committee does not take into account that previous comparables were graded too low in the first place.

So the current situation, where reckless and intentional gradings have virtually disappeared from the charge sheet, sees Taupau get just one week with his early plea.

The system has also come back to bite Burgess, his previous charges giving weight to this current light charge.

Much of it comes down to opinion and the game seems out of step with its fan base.

A smart defence will see Hudson Young, who has pleaded not guilty to a referred dangerous contact charge, walk free, too.

 

Hudson Young looks set to escape this one. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Hudson Young looks set to escape this one. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

 

It is worth remembering that NRL head of football Graham Annesley argued against criticism of the match review committee earlier this year after it failed to charge Josh McGuire for what many believed was an eye gouge on Cameron Munster. And then again on Dylan Walker.

Annesley argued it could have been "a good old-fashioned facial".

Given Warriors centre Adam Pompey later said on social media, "I didn't feel anything and I didn't know you even poked me in the eye", Young will surely argue it was nothing more than a facial.

After all, the victim agrees.

Given McGuire was hit with a grade one contrary conduct charge, which resulted in a fine and not a suspension, Young would be free to play.

Once again the light "comparables" will benefit the player.

The first business Annesley and his review must do is recalibrate the comparables and get the time back in tune with the crime.

A great irony overlooked by many is that in an era dominated by discussion and concern for concussions there has never been an era with so many players knocked out.

It is largely due to the change in tackling style.

With the concussion debate continuing to dominate the game must concede that the only way to rid it from the game is to penalise it out.

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