LATE-TACKLE VICTIM: Jamie Soward, of the Panthers, leaves the field with a shoulder injury last Friday night.
LATE-TACKLE VICTIM: Jamie Soward, of the Panthers, leaves the field with a shoulder injury last Friday night.

Tackles better never than late, says Broncos great

BRONCOS great Darren Lockyer has called for an immediate crackdown by officials on late tackles on playmakers, warning they are potentially as dangerous as outlawed spear tackles.

Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward is the latest victim, copping a late hit from Parramatta forward Pauli Pauli.

Pauli will not miss a game if he pleads guilty to a grade-one dangerous contact charge.

Earlier this year North Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston was wiped out in a controversial late tackle by Newcastle forward Beau Scott, which many believe was an opportunity for the governing body to take its stand on player welfare a step further.

"The instruction has to come from the top," Lockyer told APN as Soward awaited the results of scans on his shoulder injury that could sideline him for weeks.

"To me, being hit when you have passed the ball and are relaxed is as bad and as dangerous as the spear tackle.

"It's becoming a worrying trend. A lot of players have burner and neck issues from suffering whiplash. It's like being in a car accident.

"We need to get rid of it and quickly for the players' safety."

Lockyer said it could take current players and former players such as himself and Andrew Johns, who was outraged by the late tackle during his commentary on the game for Channel 9, to speak out to get some stronger action.

"Maybe it needs some of us to come out publicly and talk about the risks," he said.

Johns described Pauli Pauli's tackle as a "cheap shot", and like Lockyer said there was no place in the game for such tackles.

Lockyer said he understood the need to put pressure on playmakers to make them play early rather than go deep into the defensive line.

"When I was playing, the direction was 'once they pass it, knock them on their backside'," said the man who played a record 365 career games for Brisbane.

"I suspect that's still the case."

Meanwhile, the Panthers will weigh up its options, one of which is surgery, for fullback Matt Moylan, who will consult a specialist this week after rupturing ankle ligaments at the weekend.

Whatever path Penrith chooses, Moylan, who has been playing with a fractured hand, will be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah is also likely to miss Friday night's clash with the Titans, and could be battling to be fit for the second Origin in Melbourne on June 17, after having scans on the shoulder he injured in last week's 11-10 Origin loss in Sydney.



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