Another vote for Willie Mason MOTM.
Willie punch too good: Kearns
By Margie McDonald and Brent Read
November 08, 2006
THE game would lose its basic instincts if players such as Willie Mason
were penalised for heat-of-the-moment responses, according to former
Test prop Robbie Kearns.
Kearns was floored by a high tackle from Adrian Morley in the opening
seconds of the first Test of the 2003 Tri-Nations series between Great
Britain and Australia in Wigan.
Morley was sent off by referee Steve Ganson and fined $5000. He
received no other penalty.
On Saturday night in Sydney, Australia's Mason punched Lion Stuart
Fielden in the opening minutes of the Test and has been fined $5000, or
the equivalent of two match payments, and suspended for one game on a
Mason admitted he struck Fielden but argued he did it in self-defence
because, during a heated verbal exchange, the Lions prop threatened to
"belt me so I got in first".
Kearns, a foundation player with Melbourne Storm who after retiring in
2005 became an assistant coach to Craig Bellamy, said he was outraged
by the Mason judiciary decision.
He said the physical face-off between players in Test matches was a
calling card of rugby league.
"I've been down here long enough to watch a lot of AFL. It's a great
sport but it lacks that bit of physical presence," Kearns said.
"They're going to take our game down the same path as the AFL. That's
why people come to rugby league because of the physical side of
Morley punched New Zealand fullback Brent Webb as the two grappled on
the ground in the Test on October 28 in Christchurch, but escaped any
attention by the match review committee.
Wings Matt King (Kangaroos) and Manu Vatuvei (NZ) exchanged blows in
the first Tri-Nations game in Auckland on October 14. Neither player
was called before the judiciary.
Kearns' Test coach in 2003, Chris Anderson, who returns to the NRL with
the Roosters next year, said Mason had been dealt a harsh blow.
"I guess he paid the price for what has gone on before him really,"
"They should set the standards before the series starts by saying,
'that's on but this is not'. You can't do it midstream. They let a few
things go and then all of a sudden they pull one up.
"It just causes frustration for the players because some blokes are
getting away with it and some blokes aren't."
Kearns said what many observers in the judiciary room on Monday night
felt, that Mason's hit on Fielden was just too good.
"Willie's just been suspended because he knows how to throw a punch,"
"In the push and shove of a game, you're representing your country,
you're on the field and hyped up and you don't have time to think, 'I'm
supposed to be a role model'.
"You're involved with a guy like Stuart Fielden who's built like a
brick wall. It's only a matter of seconds before he'll put one on you -
you have to get in first.
"If Stuart Fielden had a good chin and had come back at him then
nothing would have happened.
"The fact Fielden dropped like a bag of potatoes shouldn't mean Willie
should be penalised for it."