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Shoulder charge banned from NRL ads
By Steve Jancetic
17:42 AEST Wed Nov 21 2012

The ARL Commission's shoulder charge ban has claimed its first victim, with the game's 2013 advertising campaign to be devoid of the often spectacular but now illegal play.

The ARLC on Tuesday accepted a recommendation to outlaw the shoulder charge - a decision which has split the rugby league community, with some fearing the game is losing its toughness.

The often brutal hit is a staple of any highlights reel and was a feature of the past two television commercials under the previous NRL administration.

But with the tactic wiped out by the ARLC, advertising campaigns showcasing tackles such as Tony Williams' bone-jarring hit on a hapless North Queensland runner used in last season's commercial are a thing of the past.

"We don't use illegal play in our ads," an ARLC spokesman said.

"Going forward, it (the shoulder charge) would be an illegal play so we would not be promoting it."

Opinion as to the merits of the ban was divided amongst current and former players, while NRL coaches seem to be of the belief that limiting the number of interchanges to eight would be a better method of controlling the force of collisions in the game.

Having watched teammate and good friend Dean Young get flattened by a Greg Inglis shoulder charge gone wrong last year, St George Illawarra veteran Matt Cooper welcomed efforts to protect players from sustaining head injuries.

"If you saw that tackle, you wouldn't call that exciting," Cooper told AAP.

"It was pretty sickening.

"If you're a fan, if that was your son or that was your brother, you don't want that to happen to the player.

"A good mate of mine Josh Miller had to retire this year because of too many head knocks.

"If it's going to benefit the players long-term with their health then I'm all for that."

Former Illawarra Steelers skipper Michael Bolt - who was at Wednesday's announcement of Ben Creagh as the new Dragons skipper - was dumbfounded by the ban.

"I'm a bit perplexed actually - if there's contact with the head, people get rubbed out of the game," Bolt said.

"You find they learn their lesson pretty quick on the sidelines.

"... when they work they are a great spectacle of the game.

"You get more players getting knocked out doing defensive mistakes - what are we going to do then, cut out the tackle? We'll end up with tags on us."

Ironically two of the NRL's smaller players - Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward - said they were fans of the shoulder charge, with Soward backing the move towards the end of last season to increase suspensions for hits that make contact to the head.

"We're going to tread a fine line where we get to being like rugby union," Soward said.

"They probably had it right toward the back end of last year where if you want to risk losing one of your star backrowers or front rowers for 12 weeks then shoulder charge by all means."

Added Cherry-Evans:

"I enjoy watching highlights reels and seeing nice shoulder charges being performed ... it would have been nice to see it stay."