Suspensions shouldn’t be based on injuries

I think both Cowboys hooker Ray Thompson and Knights prop Kade Snowden were incredibly unlucky last week. I’ve seen far worse and more aggressive shoulder charges this season which haven’t broken a jaw and haven’t seen a player banned for seven weeks. You only have to look at Frank Pritchard’s shoulder charge on Bryson Goodwin from the same weekend. There was much more intent in it, but seemingly because Goodwin’s jaw wasn’t broken Pritchard only misses two weeks.

Snowden did little more than stand his ground and brace for impact as Thompson came crashing into him thanks to another tackler. The NRL is entering dangerous territory when it starts determining the length of a suspension based on the severity of the injury. I would have thought four weeks would have been a fair penalty for Snowden for what looked to be more of an accident than anything.

The season could be over this weekend for the Cowboys as they face the Sharks at Cronulla. Thompson was just starting to provide some of the answers the Cowboys had been looking for out of dummy half and his loss will put a lot of pressure back on Johnathan Thurston. The Cowboys’ terrible record on the road will haunt them against Paul Gallen’s men.

The Roosters stumbled last week against the Sharks who were always going to go hard in what was a crucial match for them. The Roosters will be looking to end the season of another Queensland team when they host the Titans. I can’t see the inconsistent Titans troubling them in Sydney as they look to wrap up the minor premiership.

The big match this weekend sees Manly take on bitter rivals Melbourne in a clash that might not mean much in terms of positions on the ladder, but will give the winner a lot of confidence going into the finals. Manly’s defence hasn’t been up to scratch of late, conceding 22 points in each of their past two games. They only beat Canberra last week thanks to the attacking genius of Daly Cherry-Evans and the week before the 22 points they conceded to South Sydney saw them lose a tight one.

Against Melbourne, Manly will have to tighten their defence right up or it will be over before they know it. It won’t be easy, as they are missing a couple of key players through injury, but now is not the time of the year to be down on defensive form. Both coaches will be very keen to win this one but the last thing either will want is a serious injury or suspension to come out of it.

All of the teams who are already assured of finals footy will be treading on egg shells over the next couple of weeks hoping they still have all their stars fit and raring to go. South Sydney play Wests Tigers this week and although the minor premiership is still up for grabs, I’d be tempted to rest Greg Inglis. The Tigers lifted last week to beat the Dragons and everyone including Benji Marshall showed improved form, but they should be no match for the red-hot Rabbitohs. Inglis should sit comfortably in the stands with an ice pack on his knee for this one before returning next week against Sydney Roosters for a final hit-out before the finals.

Coaches can be reluctant to rest the stars this close to the finals though. I remember Melbourne Storm did it one year and then lost two straight finals games to end their season. There is merit in maintaining the team structure and momentum, but someone as vital as Inglis, who is carrying an injury, should be protected as much as possible.

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