20 Aug 2015

Shaun Johnson not happy with shoulder charge law

2:50 pm on 20 August 2015

Injured Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson has hit out at the National Rugby League's belated crackdown on the shoulder charge.

Shaun Johnson talks to media at the NRL Nines press conference, Thursday 20th August

Shaun Johnson talks to media at the NRL Nines press conference Photo: Photosport

Johnson said the NRL had gone too far in the crackdown, after the ruling body changed the shoulder charge interpretations in the wake of Kane Evans' hit on Sam Kasiano in the round 22 game between Manly and Souths.

Issac Luke, Jorge Taufua and Aidan Guerra all escaped bans over the controversial tackle at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.

A night that was meant to be a test of the NRL's tightened rules turned farcical when the panel took just 21 minutes in total to throw out the respective grade-one shoulder charges against the trio.

Issac Luke on Rabbitohs duty

Issac Luke on Rabbitohs duty Photo: Photosport

Guerra summed up the general mood at the judiciary when he spoke after his not guilty verdict was handed down.

"The fact that I was here was a bit of joke in the first place," he said. "When I got told I was coming I honestly thought they were joking. The fact that common sense prevailed I am happy.

"They (the NRL) are up against it, but certainly as seen by the evidence they have got it wrong this week.

"That is the good thing about having the judiciary (panel) of ex-players there and that definitely worked in the footballers' favour tonight."

Ben Matulino has copped a thee match ban for a shoulder charge.

Ben Matulino has copped a thee match ban for a shoulder charge. Photo: Photosport

Johnson's Warriors team-mate Ben Matulino is currently banned for an innocuous-looking tackle in their loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons in round 22.

The club decided not to contest the hit, and Matulino's early guilty plea saw the second-rower suspended for three games.

Johnson believed the NRL had got it wrong.

"When you've got players complaining that our game's changing too much - something's wrong.

"When you got Willie Mason putting George Burgess on his back and then George Burgess getting up saying 'No, leave it, y'know that was fine', like... that's crazy y'know for Willie to miss games because of that."

Manly rugby league player Willie Mason

Manly rugby league player Willie Mason Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Speaking at Thursday's launch for the nine-a-side tournament in February next year, Johnson said it's the contact point that matters, not whether it was with an arm or a shoulder.

"I think it's like anything in our game, y'know you do something - you hit someone in the head with a forearm, you hit someone in the head with a shoulder, no different. You're going to get sanctioned."

"You hit someone in the body with an arm, you hit someone in the body with a shoulder, no different. Y'know, play on."

Johnson said that players play league knowing what can happen, and they don't go out to injure each other.

Johnson on track for Nines

And Johnson's hopeful to be back playing for the Warriors at next year's NRL Nines tournament in Auckland.

Johnson has spent the past month recovering from surgery on his ankle, after breaking it during his side's loss to the Manly Sea Eagles last month.

Johnson said his rehabilitation was tracking nicely and he hoped to be back running by December this year.

Shaun Johnson on crutches at the NRL Nines press conference, Thursday 20th August

Shaun Johnson on crutches at the NRL Nines press conference Photo: Photosport

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