NRL 2022: The Tackle Round 24, confusing HIA rule could decide a final and needs to be fixed

Move over Wayne Bennett and Ivan Cleary, there’s a new coach ready to spice up the NRL Finals. All the likes and dislikes of round 24 in The Tackle.

Fatima Kdouh reveals her likes and dislikes from Round 24 of the NRL season in The Tackle.

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HIA and concussion are back in the spotlight, and rightly so. There can be no room for loopholes or opportunistic coaches when it comes to the concussion rule book.

Coen Hess faces a one-game suspension with an early plea for a high shot on South Sydney’s Campbell Graham. Hess was tied up as his shoulder touched Graham’s head.

Graham admitted he was “dazed,” but somehow the center left the field and returned within minutes after being substituted under foul play rules, not HIA rules.

More than ever, we’re also seeing examples of coaches clearing players on the field before being substituted off after a few tackles later, effectively stopping momentum for teams in an attacking position twice.

On Sunday, Titans full-back Jayden Campbell was sent off for an HIA, although Newcastle’s Adam Clune’s high shot went unpunished. More confusion followed.


All eyes will be on Nelson Asofa-Solomona when Melbourne take on Parramatta this week, but for all the wrong reasons.

We’ll all be watching and counting how many more dog shots Asofa-Solomona gets to get away with.

Asofa-Solomona got away with a $3,000 fine for trying to hit Joseph Suaalii’s face with his forearm while the Roosters winger was down defenseless.

It’s an embarrassingly weak punishment from the MRC, designed to protect players from dangerous head contact.

What is the MRC or even the NRL waiting for before finally acting?

A catastrophic injury?

Asofa Solomona has shape.

Earlier this month, the Storm forward escaped punishment entirely when he dropped his elbow on Wayde Egan’s face, leaving him with broken teeth.

Remarkably, MRC manager Luke Patten deemed the contact “minor” and that “clear separation” in the tackle meant there was no head bang.

The same goes for Cameron Munster, who fired a similar shot, attacking Sam Walker’s head with his forearm.

The MRC must act now to remove such dirty play from the game. Warnings and fines are simply not enough.


Seeing Victor Radley wince on the ground after a tackle gone awry on Friday night was a tough sight to see.

We constantly hear screams that the game is going soft.

There’s nothing soft about a game that can leave a man in his physical prime in such a vulnerable state when something as simple as a tackle goes wrong.

Luckily he’s been in a good mood since the ugly concussion. It’s likely he’ll be rested for Friday’s big clash against South Sydney to save Radley from himself.

Radley has a gait, kamikaze, and Trent Robinson can’t afford to lose it on the eve of the finals series.


Referee Adam Gee had seen enough when Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Melbourne big man Nelson Asofa-Solomona decided to lock the horns.

But the rest of us definitely hadn’t.

“Listen to me, if he comes back in or we get another melee the guys will sit down, no more, line in the sand,” Gee yelled at their respective skippers.

Yes, there was banging, yes, the tension was high and threatened to boil over. But that only added to the drama of the battle between two of the competition’s heavyweights.

And of course, Waerea-Hargreaves couldn’t help but pay extra attention to Asofa-Solomona the next time the Storm forward set him up from a restart.

It was barely a boil over, but Gee left no choice but to send Waerea-Hargreaves to the bin. Worse leaks have gone unpunished this season.

let the big boys play


To accept Brisbane’s demise in 2022 as anything other than a failed season is to accept mediocrity.

The problem with mediocrity is that it festers, settles in and becomes the new normal, like missing out on the finals the Broncos will reach for the third straight year.

Too many want to pat the Broncos on the back for producing an “improved” season after finishing 14th last year and falling as low in 2020 as last time.

But close enough can’t be good enough.

The Wests Tigers are a cautionary tale for any team that wants to ride the tails of mediocrity.

Somehow, Brisbane are now outside the top eight, having lost four of their five games after sitting fourth on the ladder just five weeks ago.

The Broncos had everything to play against Parramatta, collapsing and opening the door for Canberra to push them out of the Finals, which they did after clinching eighth place with a 48-6 win over Manly.

And the excuses are starting to leak out.

The squad is young, inexperienced and out of gas… to the point where manager Kevin Walters decided to rest his most valuable weapon flyer, Selwyn Cobbo, for the club’s most important game of the season against Parramatta.

The loss of captain Pat Carrigan to a suspension was a toll too great to bear.

But that’s certainly nothing more than cold consolation for Broncos loyalists.

Now the only way back for Brisbane is to thrash a Dragons side featuring a host of ex-Broncos players like Josh Maguire, Ben Hunt and former coach Anthony Griffin, all of whom would love nothing more than to be the ones Brisbanes love Fail Season Sword.

They have a feeling that the dragons will make the injury worse.


New coach Tim Sheens has his work cut out this preseason, starting with a crash course on NRL rules.

Inexplicably, Junior Pauga played within the 10 yards on a short miss and conceded a penalty with play on the line at 22-16. It was the turning point that allowed the Dragons to roll 100 yards and score an attempt to even the scores.

It was amplified with Zac Lomax giving away a penalty in the last minute to seal the win with a clutch strike from the sidelines.

It’s five minutes of madness that all but delivered the club’s first wooden spoon.



Off-contract stars are a good reminder that the NRL is a business these days.

But some days it’s a lot more than that, as it was for Canberra favorite Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who returns to New Zealand next season.

Nicoll-Klokstad burst into a heap of emotions as he realized he had just scored his last try and scored a final goal in his last game for the Raiders – even if it was in the reserves.

It was a moving reminder that behind the players who are evolving into entertainers and brands in our billion-dollar sport, there is still a very human side of our once working-class game.


It’s no coincidence that the Roosters hit their straps at the same time. Five-eighths Luke Keary has also found his best form.

No team has won the title outside of the top four in almost 30 years, but coach Trent Robinson is certainly meticulously plotting a September ambush with Keary as his general.

It wasn’t long ago that Keary fended off questions about retirement after suffering another troubling concussion in June.

Keary’s concussion hiccups even had some hints that the Premiership winner was stifling the development of powerhouse center Joey Manu, who appears destined for a half-time move.


For the rugby league world, Ronaldo Mulitalo is one of the good guys, for his teammates he’s a double of The Incredibles character Frozone.

So Mulitalo channeled Frozone ahead of Cronulla’s clash against Canterbury, sporting the superhero’s signature sunglasses at Pointsbet Stadium on Saturday.

Mulitalo may not be capable of freezing water like his superhero look-a-like, but he has frozen 15 attempts so far this season, where the best form of his career has just earned him a contract extension.


No love was lost between Cowboys coach Todd Payten and South Sydney native Jason Demetriou on Saturday night.

The duo were assistant coaches to the late Paul Green when the Cowboys won their first title in 2015, but you’d never have guessed.

Demetriou accused Payten of complaining too much after the Cowboys boss questioned the application of HIA rules at key points in the game.

If Wayne Bennett’s ongoing battle with Ivan Cleary has taught us anything, it’s that arguing coaches make for engaging viewing.

Originally released as NRL 2022: The Tackle Round 24, a confusing HIA rule could decide a final and needs to be fixed

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