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Gallen shocked at shoulder charge ban
By Ian McCullough
20:05 AEST Tue Nov 20 2012

NSW skipper Paul Gallen is shocked at the ARL Commission's decision to outlaw the shoulder charge and claims reducing the number of interchanges would have been a better step.

The commission reviewed a detailed report into the shoulder charge conducted by Sydney Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan and made the decision after a meeting on Tuesday.

It accepted a management recommendation that the increased size of players was creating a situation where the shoulder charge could lead to an unacceptable injury risk.

The review found that shoulder charges made up 0.05 per cent of the 142,355 tackles made in 2012, with less than four per cent resulting in injury to the attacking player and less than one per cent to the defensive player.

Seventeen per cent resulted in contact with the head of the attacking player.

"I'm still in shock," Gallen told Triple M radio.

"We don't want players getting hurt, but it's taking some of the toughness of the game."

"When you have a look at the highlight reels they're all big hits, the fans love shoulder charges."

Gallen said reducing the number of interchanges would make it harder for bigger players to produce so many huge hits.

"Personally I think it would change a lot of things," he said.

"If you have blokes who are 115-135 kilos scratching around, they would simply have to lose weight and become fitter.

"It will make the bigger men tired and certainly take the collisions out of the game.

"People are always complaining about the lack of halves and players not taking on the line, but when you're 85 kilos running at someone who is 130 kilos it is going to hurt, especially when they are fresh."

Gallen's Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan echoed his skipper's sentiments and said he was concerned at how the new ruling would be interpreted.

"It sounds easy but it's not," Flanagan told AAP.

"How are do they determine that a player wasn't affecting a tackle when his shoulder comes into contact with the head?

"This can happen sometimes when a player lowers his centre of gravity when running with the ball. I just want to know the difference between that and a shoulder charge."

Flanagan said reducing the interchange from 12 to eight would encourage more playmakers to come into the game.

"It would see more footballers who are not just athletes," he said.

"We are too athlete-based. We need to become more football-based. This would bring the smaller players back into the game and make fatigue more of a factor."

NRL interim chief executive Shane Mattiske said banning shoulder charges would reduce the potential risk of serious injury to players.

"The commission has gone through a thorough review process and been public in warning players about the risks of illegal play," Mattiske said.

"The report shows that the shoulder charge is not a significant part of the game and its removal is not likely to impact on the way the game is played.

"With the increase in size and strength of the players, we believe this is the time to eliminate a potential risk."

NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk will consult with the game's Competition Committee to finalise proposed rule amendments in relation to the shoulder charge.

The proposed rule amendments will be put before the commission at next month's meeting.