Physical rugby becoming more of a risk in ever-changing face of rugby league, says Amor

George Riley

St Helens prop Kyle Amor believes brutality is disappearing from rugby league as the game evolves to put player safety at its forefront. 

The champions earned a bruising opening round win over Catalans which saw the Dragons have two players carded.

Gil Dudson was sin-binned in the first minute and new signing Dylan Napa sent off for nasty high shot on Mark Percival.

And Saints great Amor believes players need to realise how much the game has changed, with a physicality-based brand of rugby as adopted by the Catalans now coming with a huge disciplinary risk.

“We knew Catalans were going to come with a real physical mindset and there were fireworks in the first 10 minutes,” he told Love Rugby League.

“But for the rest of the game we were so professional and so clinical and showed what a class outfit we actually are.”

Dangerous and late contact changes

In a wide-ranging conversation for the Love Rugby League podcast, Kyle Amor says that Super League in 2022 will be a faster, cleaner product than ever before, with players increasingly punished for dangerous big and late contacts.  

“Catalans came with a real physical mindset to try and disrupt the game. When it’s done right there is nothing wrong with that.

“But I just thought we weathered the storm and hit back really physically and with skill and pure individual brilliance.

“Clearly from the evidence last night and in pre-season you can’t just really on physicality. More and more people are being banned. It is designed to change player behaviour so in order to do that there has to be consequence and sanctions. 

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“Player safety is paramount, with more research now into concussion. Gone are the days where we would love a big shoulder charge or contact. Those days are going now so there is a fine line between being that physical but getting it right. 

“When it goes wrong like it did with Napa, you need to balance the risk and reward. Dylan Napa clearly got it all wrong.”

The end of the enforcer?

So is there still place in the game for the role of the enforcer; the role played to huge effect in the glory days by Barrie McDermott, Stuart Fielden and Adrian Morley?

“Like it or not society and the game itself is evolving and we have to move forward with that.

“Think back 2000 years to the colosseum and that was the first entertainment with people getting slaughtered and murdered in there, and we have managed to adjust accordingly to where we are today.

“Everybody thought that was how sport should be seen and played. 

“Now much of the brutality is going out of the game and it is purely about athletes making decisions at speed under fatigue and getting it right more often than not.”

Last year in Super League

Kyle Amor was 18th man for the Catalans game in his final season with the club, but he remains as committed and disciplined as ever for when he is needed.

“I know what I bring on and off the field so I just continue to get my head down and keep working hard and wait for the opportunity. 

“I’m still ambitious, I still have goals, they are changing as I’m realistic with where I’m at. I still believe in myself and that I can contribute or else I wouldn’t have signed. 

“This is my last year at Saints, and last year playing full time. But I still want to continue to play in the Championship. My body feels good, I don’t really get injured, I’m robust and fit. 

“The reality is I’m the next cab off the rank in arguably one of the most successful sides in Super League history. And I’ve been a large part of that success.”

You can listen to the Love Rugby League podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Audioboom.