The NRL is set to get tough on crusher tackles and late hits after directing officials to hand out harsher penalties for serious incidents.
The NRL has flagged its intention to drive the dreaded crusher tackle and late hits out of the game after directing officials to mete out tougher penalties
NRL head of football Graham Annesley on Wednesday announced that crusher tackles graded on the serious end of the scale will be referred directly to the judiciary.
Referees and the NRL bunker have also been directed to utilise the sin bin and send-off for serious late hits and crusher tackles.
The NRL competition committee last week encouraged the changes before they were rubber-stamped by the ARL Commission.
Officials became alarmed by a number of serious offences over the last year, including Newcastle's Mitchell Barnett's crusher tackle on Jahrome Hughes two weeks ago and Melbourne's Will Chambers' crusher tackle on Jarryd Hayne last year.
"There will still be less serious incidents that will be dealt with in the way they've been dealt with in the past through penalties awarded on the field and lower gradings by the match review committee," Annesley said.
"These changes are intended to come down much more severely on the upper end of the scale, reckless and intentional crusher tackles that have the potential to seriously injure players, we want to see them eradicated from the game as much as possible.
"We went through a similar process with dangerous throws some years ago and now thankfully we see very few of those incidents in the game."
Barnett copped a three-week suspension for his tackle on Hughes.
However, NRL officials believe he should have been sent off and under the new directive he would have suspended for longer.
Canberra's Sio Soliola was the last player referred directly to the judiciary in 2017 for his infamous high shot on Billy Slater.
If a player is sent to the judiciary without a charge, the panel decides his fate and there is an expectation that they would be sanctioned above the highest grading.
The NRL's directive essentially wipes the slate clean and they are attempting to set a completely new system of precedent, under which tackles which would have previously attracted a lower grading will now be treated more harshly.
"Firstly we don't want to see these tackles happen at all so hopefully this change in policy will have the appropriate deterrent effect and we won't see any," Annesley said.
"But I guess charged players and their clubs probably won't be happy about it.
"Nor would they be happy about it if one of their players was on the receiving end of one of these tackles and they would expect the player who commits the offence to be charged appropriately."