Former NRL player Ethan Lowe backs rule crackdown as NRL defends number of sin bins from Magic Round
Ethan Lowe needed to look no further than the abrupt end to his own NRL career for proof the league’s crackdown on foul play had to come.
Ethan Lowe said the NRL’s crackdown on foul play was a necessity after seeing his career end prematurely
The NRL has hit back after critics said the rules crackdown “wrecked” Magic Round
NRL boss Graham Annersley said there were a high number of charges from Magic Round due to the players, not the referees
Lowe was forced into a medical retirement last year after rupturing a disc in his neck and suffering spinal cord damage as a result of a crusher tackle.
The injury came at the worst possible time for Lowe, who had only made his Queensland State of Origin debut the previous year when he starred in the decider.
“It’s definitely made it hard,” Lowe told AAP.
“Realistically I was hoping to play another three or four years. I was only 29 at the time of the injury.
Lowe now works for South Sydney and still has ongoing issues from the damage, which he classes as manageable.
But he’s happy to admit he still shudders when he sees a crusher tackle, knowing the damage it did to him.
And beyond that, it acts as proof the NRL’s controversial crackdown is needed.
“Definitely [the crackdown is right], when you can see the end effects of it,” Lowe said.
“As a footy player before the injury I wasn’t thinking you would end up with a spinal cord injury from it. That’s not something that goes through your head.
“And now I’ve been able to see the consequences first hand, it’s definitely positive they are cracking down as hard as they are.
“It’s one of those things, sometimes it just ends up in an awkward situation which is not what you want.
“There are times when it is unavoidable and unfortunately people get suspended for stuff that is out of their control.
NRL hits back after criticism
The NRL has comes out swinging in defence of the rules crackdown, with both NRL Commission chairman Peter V’landys and head of football Graham Annesley speaking out in defence of the number of sin bins.
There were 24 judiciary charges over the course of Magic Round, but Annesley stressed on Monday that number was not the result of the crackdown, and that they would have been charged in any week.
“People have said that Magic Round was wrecked because of what the referees did,” he said.
“Magic Round was impacted because of what the players did.
“Referees responded to that.
“If these incidents don’t happen, no-one is complaining about the referees taking action because there’s no action to take. It’s disappointing.”
“It’s unfortunate that it happened on Magic Round, it’s unfortunate that it happened on the weekend where the Commission said we’re going to take a much tougher view of this stuff on the field, but off the field nothing changed.
V’landys also hit out, telling Fox Sports that it was his duty to address concussion and the ongoing impact head injuries had on player welfare.
“We have an obligation to our players and their welfare. We want our players to leave the game with all their faculties,” V’landys said.
“My job is to make sure of the players’ safety, and if we don’t do something about concussion we’re going to have a long-term problem.
“We need to address it and we need to address it now. Not tomorrow, not next week, but right now.
“This is for the future of the game. Any administrator in a contact sport who doesn’t address concussion, they are doing the wrong thing.”