Willie Poching questions crackdown on high tackles following latest red card

Willie Poching Wakefield Trinity

Wakefield coach Willie Poching has questioned the crackdown on high tackles after Hull FC’s Jake Connor was red carded in his side’s 16-12 victory over Trinity at Belle Vue.

Connor was sent off late on for his challenge on Wakefield halfback Lee Gaskell. He became the third dismissal in the opening round of Super League. Catalans prop Dylan Napa and Leeds forward James Bentley were also sent off over the weekend.

Poching said he understands why the RFL is clamping down on attacks to the heads of players, but feels rugby league could lose part of its gladiatorial appeal.

Willie Poching has his say 

“I understand where the game’s going with it as far as protecting players, especially long-term,” Willie Poching said.

“The concussion protocols they’re bringing in, I’m all for it. But I’m not sure looking at most of the games over the course of the weekend if it’s the look that we want, with teams playing with 11 and 12.

“You’ve got people you’re enticing to come and watch a contest. I think some of that is the contest element being taken away when we’ve got players sitting out on the field.

“Some of those situations just can’t be helped. You’ve got big fellas, 120 kilograms, going into a ball carrier into the mud trying to slow down. I go back to it again, I do know where the RFL is coming from and we’re coaching it up to protect them.

“But we’re also asking our players to play aggressively and get emotionally up to be full of contact. But then switch off in a second. It’s tough at times.

“But I didn’t see what that red card [for Connor] was for, there was one the other day and I think it was similar to that – clenched fist, contact with the head.

“As coaches, we’ve just got to coach our players to be disciplined and to avoid those situations. But as a game we need to have a look at how it’s looking.”

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Brett Hodgson praises side after victory

Hull FC boss Brett Hodgson hailed his players after they held on with just 12 men to edge past Wakefield in their season opener.

“I’m feeling tired, probably more than the players,” Hodgson said.

“We showed a huge amount of character, I’m really proud of the effort. But we need to improve our discipline, we gave away too many penalties, too many six agains.

“I don’t know about the Jake Connor one, it didn’t look like a straight red for me. It seemed like a bit of an over-exaggeration.

“I’m happy to get the result. We knew it was going to be tough, we knew it was going to be dire.

“It’s important to win in round one – but it doesn’t mean you’re going to win the competition, or lose the competition if you don’t win early.

“We wanted to come here and put in a performance we’d be proud of.”

Gale shines on debut

Luke Gale scored a try and kicked two goals on his Super League debut for his new club, and Hodgson praised the display and leadership of his captain.

“Luke was the general that executed the game plan very well,” he said.

“His talk is good, he’s an absolute competitor. I thought he was very solid.”

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