NRL 2023: Taylan May out for season, Joey Johns blasts ‘awful’ NRL farce, third man in, hip drop, cannonball

Andrew Johns has once again come down hard on the third man in tackle, calling for it to be wiped out of the game.

It comes after Panthers winger Taylan May was ruled out for the season with a knee injury inflicted from the play during the World Club Challenge against St Helens in Penrith on Saturday.

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May was taking a hit up and was held by two St Helens players when former NRL player Agnatius Paasi came in as the third man in.

Paasi, who played both for the New Zealand Warriors and the Gold Coast Titans, was not charged for the incident however, as the NRL and Rugby Football League match review committees cleared the tackle.

It’s a brutal blow for the Panthers, who had already moved Charlie Staines on to the Wests Tigers and will lose Stephen Crichton at the end of the season as he moves to the Canterbury Bulldogs.

But while it wasn’t charged, Johns and Brad Fittler had both had enough of the ugly tackle.

“Once again, get that tackle out of the game,” Johns said on WWOS’ Freddy and the Eighth.

“You don’t need that third person coming into the tackle. If two players, and not even two players, two big boppers, have got a hold of the player, you should not have a third player coming in at the knees.”

Fittler added: “It’s got to go, seriously. That’s awful.”

Johns said it reminded him of the injury that ended Souths forward Liam Knight’s season in a NSW Cup match last year when an Eels player came in late at the lower leg.

While Johns labelled the Knight tackle “horrendous” he said there was “no need for it”.

“He can’t see him coming,” Johns continued. “I don’t blame the player. Every team does it, every team trains for it.”

It’s far from the first time Johns has called for the tackle to be banned, as he labelled it a “dangerous” last season.

“If there’s two men in the tackle and they can’t get the player down, then one has to change his technique and go down,” Johns said in July.

“That third man should not be allowed to come in. It’s dangerous.

“They’re worried about the third man destroying their knees and ankles.”

And he’s far from being alone wanting it eradicated.

His brother and Fox League personality Matthew Johns said he wanted the cannonball tackle banned for good in April last season.

Paasi’s tackle was not even penalised during the World Club Challenge, which St Helens won 13-12, becoming the first UK team to win in Australia since 1994.

Both match review committees studied the vision and determined his actions weren’t careless and didn’t match the criteria for a cannonball or hip drop tackle, with the severity of May’s injury not taken into account.

“Firstly, the initial point of contact by Paasi was high on May’s hip/upper thigh,” said NRL match review committee boss Luke Patten in a statement obtained by NCA NewsWire.

“For a tackle to be considered dangerous and spearing at the legs, the match review committee must see forceful contact at or around the knee of the attacking player.

“Paasi also drops to his knees at the point of contact, which we encourage players to do, and did not drop his body weight onto the back of May’s lower legs. This is one of the key indicators that we would look for in a hip drop tackle.

“The NRL match review committee members all agreed that the actions of Paasi were not careless and did not warrant a charge.

“The injury sustained by a player is only relevant in arriving at a penalty once it’s been determined that a player’s actions were at least careless.”

May’s injury is a devastating blow for the back-to-back premiers, who have already lost Viliame Kikau to the Bulldogs from last year’s lethal left edge.

May was set to miss the opening two games of the season after copping a backdated suspension last year on top of an injury which ruled him out of the preliminary and grand final.

He was outstanding in his first full year in the NRL, scoring 16 tries in 21 games, including eight in his first five appearances, but will now miss the entire 2023 campaign.

With NCA Newswire

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