Cronulla forward Dale Finucane may have to give up his tackle after being banned for a week following a head-butt clash with Cowboys prop Coen Hess, Campbell Graham.
The incident left Graham stunned and Cowboys coach Todd Payne asked why the player was fined and did not need to go to the South Sydney center to watch the game.
The Rabbitohs eventually won the game, but Hess was hit with a careless high tackle charge in the 2nd grade that will keep him out of Saturday’s game against the Panthers.
The contact was very similar to an incident in the 19th round when Finucane charged off the line to force a fault, only to lose an earlobe in a collision with Panthers star Stephen Crichton.
Finucane was banned for three matches after losing a judicial appeal and said the decision was “an example to move forward”. Now defenders may be rethinking their rush to belt ball carriers.
“Looking at what happened in the Coen Hess situation, it looks like he’s a neutral midfielder behind the ball and he’s looking to change the game for them,” Finucane said on Monday.
“I don’t know if this will take. The fact that accidental head-on collisions are now sanctioned, I don’t know if it plays with psychology or not.
“Without shoulder contact, I find it difficult to sanction.
“My defense is that it was an accident. Accidents happen in games and more head-on collisions happen in games than people think.
“I think it’s the power meter that determines whether it’s soft or hard. I don’t think that happens to matter anymore with the sound of how the police do it because they are sanctioned based on accident negligence.
The former home state representative has returned to Cronulla for two games and says the ban has not affected his defensive approach.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” he said.
“Of course, only when opportunities are presented. Many things come to him. How tired are you, game time. Should you because you’re chasing points?
“There are a lot of different variables that lead to ‘what has to happen.’ We started with the Mali game, so there was no need to worry about any danger.
But players now know that contact with the head – accidental or otherwise – will result in a suspension, so defenders must change their technique in the online game to avoid possible suspensions in the final race.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s an obvious extended duty of care, but sudden head collisions happen every game,” Finucane said.
“It is clear that only force plays a role whether they are banned or not. I can’t say about other players whether it affects their decision because they are going to do it now or not.