Lucky: Former Northern United prop and Manly Under-20s front-rower Birrigan Young escaped serious injury after a head-first horror tackle against the Warriors last weekend.
Lucky: Former Northern United prop and Manly Under-20s front-rower Birrigan Young escaped serious injury after a head-first horror tackle against the Warriors last weekend. David Nielsen

Manly prop spear-tackled

INAUGURAL Northern United rugby league coach Chris Binge has called the tackle that came close to rendering his former prop a para-plegic as ‘the worst I’ve seen’.

Manly front-rower Birrigan Young was driven head-first into the Mt Smart Stadium turf in Auckland by two New Zealand Warriors defenders in an NRL Under-20s game last Sunday.

Young, who played off the bench for the Dirawongs in the NRRRL last season and in their 21-20 grand final loss to Lower Clarence, escaped the nasty tackle with a dislocated shoulder that will see him miss up to eight weeks.

Young was up-ended by Warriors players Sebastian Ikahihifo and John Palavi at the 22-minute mark. His left shoulder was driven back behind his head upon landing and play was stopped when he was motionless and in obvious pain.

Amazingly, neither of the Warriors players were sent off, with only a penalty awarded to the Sea Eagles.

However, the NRL’s match review panel later charged the pair with a grade five throw, the harshest charge outside being referred directly to the judiciary, and they faced a combined 18-match ban.

That was reduced to six weeks each with early guilty pleas late yesterday.

But Binge, who helped nurture the youngster from the Under-18s through to first grade for United last season, was livid.

He said the tackle was similar to the one that ended his playing days at Ballina and that Ikahihifo and Palavi deserved a harsher penalty.

“I was watching it on TV and it was actually really dangerous; in fact it was the worst tackle I’ve seen in a while,” Binge said.

“It was careless, dangerous and reckless.”

For his part, Young was diplomatic about the incident.

“I’ve watched the replay and I guess you could say I was fairly lucky not to have done anything bad to my neck,” he said from Sydney yesterday.

“I know it wasn’t intentional. You can’t fully blame them (Ikahihifo and Palavi); it’s footy and these things can happen. I’m just hoping for a quick recovery.

“I’ve been resting the past couple of days and will start physio in two weeks. They (club doctors) say I’ll be out for eight weeks, so hopefully ... ”

The Warriors players received support from an unlikely source. Manly CEO Graham Lowe, a Kiwi, was reported to have said the tackle was due to the players’ ‘inexperience’ – comments which drew Binge’s ire.

“I have a major concern with those comments,” he said.

“To be playing in the Under-20s, you are taught the correct tackle techniques, and the majority of the Warriors (Under-20s) players are either 19 or 20 and have all played rep footy.”

Young arrived at Manly at the start of the pre-season and is on a one-year trial contract.

“This kid has a huge future,” Binge said.

“He’s impressed the club in the pre-season and has a great opportunity there.

“He’s been in the squad since round one.

“I just hope this (injury) doesn’t impact on his future.”



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