Trent Merrin’s 2013 season was ended due to a cannonball tackle so he was delighted to see the controversial tactic outlawed by the NRL.
No one was happier to see the NRL ban the third-man-in tackle than St George Illawarra prop Trent Merrin.
And the NSW star has also given his backing to the new concussion guidelines.
Merrin was one of the few shining lights in a poor season for the Dragons in 2013 and was in contention for a spot in the Kangaroos’ World Cup squad before his season was ended by a cannonball tackle from Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough in round 22.
The 24-year-old sustained medial ligament damage following the incident and McCullough was not charged – something the Dragons are still privately seething about.
But with the practice of tackling below the knee when a player is being held by two other players now outlawed, Merrin believes the game is better for it.
“It’s a lot safer, I was taken out of the comp last year because of a cannonball tackle,” Merrin said.
“I was damaged by it and it was pretty shattering to miss out the back end of last season.
“It’s definitely a positive and definitely speeding up the game and testing teams out a lot more.”
In addition to alleviating the threat of serious injury to players, the new rule change is a boon for more mobile front-rowers such as Merrin.
“It’s harder to put every player down now because you can’t have the third man in and it’s going to speed the game up,” he said.
“I think we’re all still adjusting to things but so far it’s gone real well.”
Blues skipper Paul Gallen this week slammed the NRL for making the game too soft, with players now given 15 minutes to show they’re fit to return after sustaining concussions.
A hard-hitting TV interview last Sunday with former Test front-rower Ian Roberts revealed he’d sustained brain damage as a result of being knocked out on a number of occasions during his career and really hit home the threat to players.
New NRL guidelines allow teams a free interchange to cover for the absence of the player if he leaves the field with concussion, and then returns. And a number of players also finished games prematurely – with the interchange counted – in round one.
Bulldogs winger Mitch Brown, Newcastle pair Kurt Gidley and Tyrone Roberts in addition to Wests Tigers back-rower Liam Fulton were among those forced out of action after head knocks and Merrin is all in favour of the changes.
“I didn’t see the interview with Ian Roberts, but the changes they’ve brought are a positive step,” he said.
“Anything that has the safety of players in mind is good for the game in my opinion.”