Ipswich Jets captain Keiron Lander (fourth from left) shares concerns about wrestling in rugby league.
Ipswich Jets captain Keiron Lander (fourth from left) shares concerns about wrestling in rugby league. Rob Williams

Battle plan cruel twist

WHEN Keiron Lander feels someone grab him tightly around the neck and begin to twist, he tends to react in a negative manner.

Those who know the Jets skipper know he's not the type to complain when things get tough, but his neck is a sore point - literally.

Lander has a history of neck injuries so he didn't appreciate some of the Easts Tigers' tactics in their 28-20 Queensland Cup win over the Ipswich Jets on Sunday.

"I'm a bit sensitive about it," Lander said.

"Guys don't intend to go out and try to rip someone's head off. But in footy, players get aggressive and things can go wrong.

"Guys do this and do those sort of moves.

"I've been in the system.

"I know every team has a wrestling coach."

But what happened on Sunday crossed the line, according to the Jets.

Lander was one of several Jets players with injured necks as a result of Easts defenders putting pressure on Ipswich players' heads in tackles.

It is what has become known as the crusher tackle in the NRL.

Jets co-coach Shane Walker warned last week that the Tigers' wrestling tactics would be one of the big challenges for the Jets, who like a fast-paced game.

On Sunday, after the game, it was his brother and fellow co-coach Ben who was talking about the prospect of a formal complaint about Easts' methods.

"A few times I got grabbed around the head and I didn't like it," Lander said.

"I've probably grabbed blokes, I wouldn't say around the neck, but around the shoulder part.

"I don't think it is part of our game (to target a player's head and neck)."

Lander bases his game around dominating the physical impact at the tackle, rather than what happens on the ground.

He showed against the Northern Pride how well it works, and that wrestling isn't needed to dominate an opponent.

But Lander is worried his type of defensive specialist is an endangered species.

"I play rugby league because I enjoy tackling and that sort of thing," Lander said.

"You can't do things like that (wrestling with players' heads) if you want to get quick play-the-balls."

For teams that don't like a fast-paced game and can't match the Jets' defensive line-speed, wrestling in the tackle is a means of slowing the opposition down.

Lander's concerns extend beyond his personal interest.

He believes it is not only dangerous, but a blight on the spectacle of the game.

"The hierarchies in the game need to reward good tackles - good leg tackles and solid tackles and get the wrestle out of the game," he said.

"People love free-flowing rugby league.

"If they get rid of the wrestle, they won't have to change the interchange from 10 to eight."



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