Paul Wellens fears for rugby league after “incredibly dangerous” tackles are legalised

After St Helens were beaten by Leigh Leopards at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium in the Challenge Cup semi-finals, there was a lot of debate.

This centred around some key moments including the tackles from John Asiata on Alex Walmsley, Agnatius Paasi, Morgan Knowles and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook which left the quartet injured.

Speaking on Instagram the day after, Jon Wilkin labelled the tackles “incredibly dangerous.”

Now, medical scans have sadly revealed that prop forwards Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi will unfortunately miss out the rest of the 2023 Betfred Super League season.

Both Saints players suffered injuries in the Betfred Challenge Cup Semi-Final loss to Leigh Leopards last Saturday afternoon, with Paasi needing assistance to come off the field.

Head Coach Paul Wellens referenced Paasi in his post-match conference, saying that his knee had been “blown to smithereens” and it has now been confirmed that unfortunately Agnatius is likely to miss at least nine months of action with ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament), and ankle ligament injuries.

Alex Walmsley has sadly injured his MCL which will end his 2023 season and requires surgery which has happened today.

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Morgan Knowles also suffered knocks following tackles made in the Semi-Final fixture, with McCarthy-Scarsbrook expected to miss at least two weeks, whilst Knowles could feature in our upcoming Super League game this week if he passes his fitness checks and is declared fit to play.

Saints will now take on Leeds Rhinos in a Grand Final rematch knowing that Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi will be absent.

As will Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook who is out for two weeks.

Meanwhile, Morgan Knowles stands a 50/50 chance of being fit for the fixture.

Mata’utia will miss the game through suspension after he picked up a two match ban.

Speaking on BBC Radio Merseyside, Paul Wellens has been adamant that the reaction isn’t an emotional response to the defeat.

He made a very valid point behind his concerns. He stated that the decision to voice these concerns is because he fears for the sport if the disciplinary doesn’t punish these kind of tackles.

“It is important to consider here is that this isn’t an emotional response to losing a cup game. I congratulate Leigh wholeheartedly for the way they played at the weekend and I wish them well in the final in a few weeks time,” he said.

“But what we have to consider here is when we are making decisions about tackling in that manner, we give the green light to coaches and players at all levels, including the community game, we give players the green light for players to tackle like that.

“I sit here as someone who loves the game, that doesn’t sit with me well.”