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Gould and Gallen comments as high and wild as Mitchell’s tackle on Manu

Gould: “Everyone who’s played the game, particularly at this level, would understand what’s happened at this collision … I agree with Paul Gallen, the blokes who play the game probably understand it. Not everything goes to plan sometimes and when you watch it on replay or in slow motion it looks so horrible, but it’s such a fraction of a second between getting a tackle right and a tackle wrong.”

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We’ll get to the patronising nature of saying only people who played league can understand in a sec, but for the moment let’s go with slo-mo. A frequent refrain of commentators is “but it looked alright in slo-mo”. So what? The whole point of having slo-mo is to see what ACTUALLY happened. All commentators and us at home had no clue what had happened to Manu until we saw it frame by frame and then it was absolutely clear, as above: shoulder to cheekbone, resulting in a broken face. And you think it is no big deal? Seriously?

Gould: “That was the tone of the whole game, it was so combative and so fierce. Don’t tell me you weren’t gripping on your seat with everything that happened here tonight. We got a blowout scoreline and we loved the contest because of the physicality and how they went at each other.”

We did. Great game. But again, so what? What on earth has that got to do with the issue at hand? You actually think the judiciary can say, look, Mitchell did put his shoulder into Manu’s cheek and send him to hospital, but, look, it was a great physical game, so let’s let this one go. Seriously?

Gould: “Latrell was doing what fullbacks do and there will be people who never played this game or never been in this position who don’t understand that. We do, they don’t.”

Patronising much, Phil? A consistent theme of your remarks on the night, and since, have been that unless you played rugby league you wouldn’t understand, so everyone else should shut up? Seriously? Well, for one thing, on Fox Sports neither Greg Alexander nor Cooper Cronk who were commentating – and both of whom played the game at the highest level – mounted anything like your defence of Mitchell and both were clear from the outset that Mitchell was likely gone for the season. In the words of Cronk: “He crossed the line”.

End of the story. But to return to your outrageous notion that only those who played should be allowed to make criticism, surely that is the most tired trope of all? That is only one step away from saying you can neither commentate or comment on something unless you have participated at a high level – which is demonstrable nonsense.

Ray Warrren? Ray Hadley? Andrew Voss? All are highly accomplished league commentators – in both calling games, and making comment – and as far as I know the highest playing attainment of any of them was Rabbit Warren turning out for a couple of seasons for the Quirindi Grasshoppers. Beyond that, how many political commentators have been in politics? How many people writing knowledgeably right now on the COVID-19 crisis have had it?

Of course NRL followers have a strong opinion on the Mitchell tackle, as they always have had strong opinions on everything that happens in league – and it is those very opinions that are the lifeblood of the game between matches, keeping it alive. If only those who had played the game at the highest level expressed strong opinions it would be dead in a week.

You continued:

“They’ve knocked two teams out tonight, they’ve basically knocked two teams out of the competition, they’ve knocked their premiership chances out tonight. They’ve basically handed the grand final to the Storm and the Panthers tonight, they’ve handed the final to the other two sides.”

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No, Phil, “they” did no such thing. They, in the first instance, only sin-binned Mitchell, when he was lucky not to have been sent off. And the judiciary subsequently did what they had to do, and rule without fear or favour on the matter before them. Should a player who has already come before them four times for dangerous tackles, be suspended for doing the most damaging one of all, or should we take into account what this might mean for the Roosters, Rabbitohs, Storm and Panthers?

If the judiciary hadn’t suspended him what the hell do you think they could say to the Roosters’ Victor Radley, whose own suspensions this season for high contacts have been for much milder offences!?

We’re in a season of change, when the NRL has recognised their legal obligation to change the way the game is played – or face an existential threat. The point has been made to the likes of Radley and everyone else: either change the way you play or be wiped out of the game. Radley has got the message, changed his technique, and the game is safer for it.

The same must apply to Latrell Mitchell. You seriously think, Phil, that in this day and age, when the stakes are this high – both for the legal safety of the game, and the physical safety of the players – that Mitchell can make a contact like that, with his shoulder on Manu’s cheekbone, and you and Paul Gallen play the men in blue, saying nothing to see here folks, please move along?

Seriously?

There was something to see, and we saw it. It was a hit that was a throwback to the times when such hits drew little consequences. But those times have changed, and rightly so.

I’m sorry, but it is yellow card for you, Phil Gould.

Paul, you are on a warning. (If it’s alright with you, I mean.)

Twitter: @Peter_Fitz

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