Abdo stands by NRL’s high tackle crackdown

Troy Whittaker |

Last year’s Magic Round was overshadowed by the intense focus on high tackles, but NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo has no regrets about enforcing stricter on-field punishments.

Fourteen players were sin-binned and another three sent off across the showpiece event in Brisbane after the NRL instructed officials to come down harder on dangerous contact.

And it seems the NRL won’t ease up with seven players sin-binned in seven trial matches at the weekend.

“I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to protect player welfare,” Abdo said at Monday’s 2022 Magic Round launch.

“The rule (for high contact punishment) has always been clear, but obviously we’ve seen a change in the way that rule has been applied and just how strict it is.

“I think what we saw in the second half of last season is that players, coaches and the teams have all adapted – and we’ve got a much better outcome.

“The game is still incredibly entertaining but it’s a little safer and I think that’s really important.”

Abdo flagged impending changes to the match review and judiciary processes in the NRL and NRLW.

The tweaks could come too late for Tyrell Fuimaono, however, with the Dragons second-rower facing up to a seven-match ban for a hip-drop tackle on Eels winger Haze Dunster due to loading and carryover points.

Abdo confirmed the NRL would “reinvigorate” its Hall of Fame in the coming months after COVID-19 scuppered plans for the 2021 ceremony.

“We’ll be inducting players and officials that missed the cycle from last year,” he said.

Magic Round is once more scheduled for Suncorp Stadium in round 10.

“Last year more than 130,000 fans attended and with borders open across the country we are hoping for even more to attend this year,” Abdo said.