THE NRL’s off-season tweak to the shoulder charge rule will be tested when Jason Taumalolo risks an extra week on the sidelines to contest a charge out of the Cowboys’ win over the Broncos.
Not only is he in line for a two week suspension, the reigning Dally M Medallist could have his chances of going back-to-back could be virtually ended before they even begin if he is found guilty, with six Dally M points – three from each game he’s suspended – to be stripped from his final tally at the end of the season.
Taumalolo flattened Alex Glenn with a big hit in the 26th minute in the latest extra time epic between the two Queensland powerhouses.
While he didn’t extend an arm in the tackle, Taumalolo’s contact with the Kiwi second rower was quite front on, potentially saving him from a ban in previous years.
However, the NRL tightened up the definition of what constitutes a shoulder charge this pre-season, with Taumalolo’s defence of the charge set to be the first test case.
On the eve of the Auckland Nines, the NRL announced that a player would be sanctioned for a shoulder charge if “contact is forceful and the player did not use, or attempt to use, his arms (including his hands) to tackle or otherwise take hold of the opposing player’’.
The change in definition was made to simplify a rule that had too many grey areas.
After Friday night’s game, Cowboys coach Paul Green dismissed concerns over Taumalolo’s tackle, with the coach’s belief there was nothing in it backed up by the club’s decision to fight the charge.
However, the not guilty plea will add a week to Taumalolo’s suspension if the Cowboys’ defence is thrown out by Tuesday night’s judiciary.
With a clean record, Taumalolo stood to miss just one game — Saturday night’s clash with Manly — if he took the early guilty plea.
He will now cop a two-week suspension if he’s found guilty of the shoulder charge.
Meanwhile, Matt Scott will also fight a shoulder charge ban at the judiciary after he was cited for a hit on Korbin Sims.
Scott has been ruled out for the season after suffering an ACL injury, but by pleading not guilty to the charge he will ensure there are no carry over points hanging over his head when he returns to the field next year.