NRL 2022: Andrew Johns calls for 12-week ban for hip drop tackle offenders

Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns has called for stunningly harsh penalties for hip drop tackles as a war of words erupts between Cameron Smith and Greg Alexander on the topic.

Andrew Johns has called for the NRL to get serious on hip drop tackles by dishing out mandatory 12-week suspensions.

The rugby league immortal’s determined stance has emerged amid an explosive radio war between league legends Cameron Smith and Greg Alexander following accusations Melbourne Storm pioneered all of the NRL’s controversial tackles.

Smith and Alexander have become engaged in a slanging match on their own station – SEN Radio – in the fallout from Brisbane Broncos forward Pat Carrigan’s four-game suspension for a tackle which left Tigers star Jackson Hastings with a broken leg.

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Andrew Johns wants harsher penalties for hip drop tackles.
Andrew Johns wants harsher penalties for hip drop tackles.

Carrigan was suspended following a ‘hip drop’ tackle, where a player uses their body weight to fall on the legs of a ball-carrier while he is being held, forcing his torso to bend backwards.

The incident has polarised the game, with some believing Carrigan escaped with a lenient suspension given Hastings has been sidelined for at least three months.

“If there’s two players in the tackle and the attacker has no momentum, there should not be a third man allowed in to dive in at the legs,’’ Johns said on SEN.

“Jim Comans (former NSWRL judiciary chairman in the 1980s) … how did he do it? He cleaned the game up with major suspensions.

“You do a hip-drop, 12 weeks on the sideline at a minimum. And that’s to start with.’’

The debate turned nasty among radio teammates after “Brandy” Alexander accused the Storm of introducing all of the NRL’s controversial tackles over the past 20 years into the game.

Smith, the NRL’s greatest ever player with 430 games for Melbourne, hit back at Alexander on Thursday.

“Brandy (Alexander) is a great analyst of the game and one of the greatest players of our game,” Smith said.

“I just don’t know how he came up with that comment. To single out one club and to say that they introduced that tackle into our sport, that’s a little bit over the top.

“I can’t ever recall seeing Brandy at one of our training sessions throughout my career and my 20 years at Melbourne. I can’t recall him ever being at training.

Greg Alexander and Cameron Smith.
Greg Alexander and Cameron Smith.

“I work with Brandy on our radio station and he’s a great fella, but to single out the Melbourne Storm, that’s really unfair, really unfair.

“To say that a club or even clubs now are practising or teaching their players to fall into the back of legs, I think that’s a little bit over the top.”

Alexander, a Penrith great and current NSW Origin advisor, used his Friday morning program with Andrew Voss to double down on his comments and accused the Storm of introducing every dangerous tackle into the NRL over the past 20 years.

“I didn’t think it was any type of revelation when I made those comments about the hip drop emanating out of the Melbourne Storm,” Alexander said.

Jackson Hastings has been sidelined for at least three months. Picture: Scott Davis/NRL Images
Jackson Hastings has been sidelined for at least three months. Picture: Scott Davis/NRL Images

“I just thought it was a general consensus that over the last 20 years all the tackles, the wrestle, techniques have come from Melbourne. I might be generalising or even jumping to a conclusion, but I don’t think I am.

“These tackles over the last 20 years, all the different types of techniques, they appear in the game and it takes the game a little while to catch up to them.

“I think history shows, and it’s not a stretch for me to jump to a Melbourne Storm conclusion, that for 20 years, the grapple, the chicken wing, the rolling pins, the crusher, the hip drop … I think they all emanated out of Melbourne.

Patrick Carrigan has been suspended for four matches. Picture: NRL Images
Patrick Carrigan has been suspended for four matches. Picture: NRL Images

“Melbourne have led the way. They changed the way back in 2002-03, where the wrestle became part of the game. All those variations of slowing the play the ball down, I think they all emanated out of Melbourne, they were ahead of the game.

“I’m not at training. I have been to one session, they weren’t wrestling that day, but I’ve been commentating for 21 years on Fox and through those 21 years I have watched the tackle techniques of teams, but Melbourne led the way. Melbourne were the ones that set the standard with those tackling techniques.

“In 20 years, history shows me that the Melbourne Storm were the first to grapple, first to chicken wing, first to rolling pin – knees in the back of the leg.”

Originally published as NRL 2022: Andrew Johns calls for 12-week ban for hip drop tackle offenders