Leeds Rhinos boss weighs in on tackle debate following Paul Wellens’ comments

Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Rohan Smith has echoed the comments of St Helens counterpart Paul Wellens and suggested that more scrutiny is needed around tackling. 

Speaking to the media ahead of his side’s clash with the Saints, Smith said: “Firstly, I’ve seen some of Paul’s commentary and some of the general commentary that’s gone around it. It’s always sad in my eyes that when players get injured and they’re going to miss the rest of the season, no matter how that injury comes about, it’s always met with some kind of disappointment from myself. Even if it’s opposition players, you never want to see players get hurt and end their season.”

He later added: “Agnatius Paasi  is one of my closest colleagues or friends in rugby league, so to see him playing so well and not be able to play is disappointing to me. I think that I don’t know the rule book enough to know whether there’s been rules broken but I’ll probably echo some of the thoughts around the game around we’re putting a lot of attention on what are generally mild high tackles or glancing blows or at times kickers or passers are getting knocked over rather than attacked and they’re met with harsh penalties and then you know something that carries a lot more intent and potentially a lot more injury risk.”

“If the rules aren’t in place to take action then you know maybe the process needs to be reviewed and maybe it’s just tackling in general that we need to scrutinize on an ongoing basis more so than stuff just directly related to head and neck which is where a lot of the attention seems to go,” said Smith.

Smith’s views came following Paul Wellens scathing comments yesterday.

The Saints Head Coach called for John Asiata to be banned following tackles which saw Agnatius Paasi and Alex Walmsley suffer season ending injuries in their Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Leigh. They will also be without Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook for the game, however Morgan Knowles has been named in the 21-man-squad despite also suffering a knock in the game against the Leopards.

Speaking yesterday, Wellens said: “How we can sit here comfortable with that (tackle technique), in whatever position you are within rugby league; whether you’re a coach, whether you’re a player, whether you’re media, an  administrator, whatever you may be; how we can sit there comfortable with that I’ll never know.

He added: “Well, what we’ve effectively done by not charging it is told thousands of people who play rugby league up and down the country every weekend, on all different levels, that that tackling technique is okay. That’s what the governing body have done.”