“Maybe Rugby League isn’t the game I want my son playing” – Paul Wellens calls for RFL action after season-ending injuries

The weekend saw some brilliant Challenge Cup action with Sunday’s game heading to golden point as Hull KR defeated Wigan Warriors, whilst the day previous Leigh Leopards had edged out St Helens.

Sadly however the talking points from the matches hasn’t been focused primarily on the quality and intensity of knockout rugby league, once again injuries and officiating have taken centre stage.

Sunday’s fixture saw a controversial red card for Joe Shorrocks just after half-time, one that has triggered debate as to tackle height laws and contact with the head.

Ultimately that red card could have cost the cup holders as they surrendered their lead and eventually lost out, playing 40 minutes with just 12 men.

A day earlier there wasn’t a red card in the St Helens and Leigh Leopards match, however it wasn’t a game without controversy and that has spiralled in the post match with the confirmation from Saints yesterday that they’ve lost two players to season-ending injuries.

Both Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi are set to miss the rest of the season with Walmlsey looking at a three month layoff with Paasi is set to be on the sidelines for nine months.

It’s a devasting blow for the Saints as they chase down a fifth consecutive Grand Final and their head coach Paul Wellens has since made an impassioned call out of the RFL, asking them to do more to protect players.

Speaking on BBC Merseyside the Saints boss outlined what the game needs to do to.

“What we’ve got to consider when we’re making decisions not to charge players who are tackling in that manner, is that we give the green light for coaches and players at all levels; Super League, Championship, League One, academy, scholarship, women and dare I say the community game –  we give the green light for players to be able to tackle like that.

“As I sit here now as someone who loves the game and loves rugby league, that doesn’t sit with me well. It doesn’t make me feel comfortable.

“I have an eight-year-old son who plays the game every week with a smile on his face, but if that’s the type of tackle that we’re allowing in our game then maybe rugby league is the game that I don’t want my son playing anymore.

“I feel that strongly about it, and I feel strongly that Agnatius Paasi, Alex Walmsley and to a lesser extent Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Morgan Knowles have been severely let down by the governing body this weekend.”

Leigh’s captain John Asiata had been involved in the tackles that saw injuries occur for both Walmsley and Paasi and whilst cited by the Match Review Panel, he did not get charged.

Wellens had earlier compared the situation to that of Morgan Knowles who landed a large ban for his involvement in a tackle that injured Mike Cooper of Wigan, the prop suffering an ACL injury and scheduled to miss nine months.

“The RFL before the Match Review Panel met were provided with detailed medical reports from our medical staff,” Wellems told BBC Merseyside.

“Then I spoke to the panel they, by 18:30 on Monday and after the decision not to ban John Asiata, they had still not seen those scan reports.

“What I want to ask is why because that is a very different procedure to what Morgan Knowles was subjected to when he was in a similar scenario when Mike Cooper suffered an ACL injury.”