Paul Cooke has his say on controversial John Asiata tackle

Leigh Leopards are your 2023 Challenge Cup winners after defeating Hull KR and they are now battling with Wigan Warriors and St Helens for a spot in the top two and a home semi-final in the play-offs.

Skipper John Asiata will be vital to the Leopards’ ambitions of winning another trophy or two in 2023 but he has been at the centre of controversy since the semi-final win over St Helens where his low tackles injured four St Helens players leading Paul Wellens to say “he’s out of control” and slam the RFL for not protecting his players with Agnatius Paasi’s knee “blown to smithereens.”

Now every tackle Asiata makes is heavily scrutinised, unsurprisingly.

This was the case at Wembley when an early tackle prompted Hull KR stars to demand a penalty but instead they were penalised and conceded the opening points of the final.

Now former Robin Paul Cooke has had his say:

“I think it’s a really good idea for Rugby League to look at [yellow cards for berating referees] because I can’t stand it.

“Mikel Arteta got a yellow card in the Community Shield for asking for a Man City player to be booked, and I think that’s creeping into our game too where players behind tackles are waving their arms at referees and I just think that you’re trying to, not con the referee into something, but trying to force him into a decision.

“I was quite happy that Kendall turned around and penalised Hull KR for that because if there’s one thing you do know about Chris Kendall, and we’ve had this conversation with the Josh Griffin stuff, you can’t speak to him and you can’t berate at him.

“The other thing with Asiata is he never received any punishment for the tackle technique he has which injured Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi in the semi-final.

“So if he goes in with that technique and you run in, there’s nothing illegal in what he’s done because the game’s not punished him.

“I just think the emotion of that scenario where the players run in you’ve got to be able to separate that emotion and think about it logically if that I’d have spoken about that pregame because if Asiata does do that and you run in there’s nothing illegal in it so you can’t run in.

“For them to run in on the very first set of six that they have the football and and then the penalty gets turned around that to me is just mind-boggling because it’s not it’s not being punished in previous games.”