Wane slams Leeds for Tautai tackle comments

Taulima Tautai will miss the St Helens game
Taulima Tautai will miss the St Helens game

Shaun Wane has accused Leeds of “influencing” the process which led to Taulima Tautai being suspended.

The forward was banned for two matches - which was halved on appeal - for a grade B dangerous contact on Adam Cuthbertson.

Tautai’s tackle went unpunished during the 18-16 loss at Headingley on Friday but, minutes after full-time, coach Brian McDermott condemned the tackle.

“If those things are not punished in the right way, your silence encourages them,” he said. “If you continue with those type of tackles, someone will end up with a leg snap.”

Wane used today’s press conference, ahead of tomorrow’s derby with St Helens, to defend Tautai - and take aim at the Rhinos camp.

He said: “Some of the comments form Leeds after the game - and before the match review panel - massively influenced everything.

“Which I think is really poor and disappointing.

“Not only (Brian), I’ve got Leeds players running to the referee (in protest). If that’s the way we’re going, I feel sorry for our game.

“When you go to a ref’ trying to get a player sent off - that’s not what rugby league is about.”

Under the current process, the RFL’s match review panel analyse games on Mondays and issue charges, with players appearing before a disciplinary panel the following day to argue their case and be punished.

“The system is fair. We get charged, we give our opinion, you win some and lose some,” said Wane.

“But you can’t comment after a game about something that happened, without a doubt the match review panel saw those comments and acted on it - without a doubt.

“And it’s not on. It’s not the right thing to do.

“There’s a process in place... it’s really, really poor.

“There are comments in the paper today, the same comments again - people don’t know the facts which are spoken about in the disciplinary, and I think it’s really disappointing.”

Wane pointed out he held his counsel when Tony Clubb suffered a crusher tackle which sidelined him with a neck injury.

And earlier this month, he wouldn’t comment on Tony Suffolk’s ‘death roll’ tackle in a reserve game until after the St Helens player had been punished.

McDermott said in his post-match press conference: “I don’t know why the game is accepting that type of tackle. Stop running in with your shoulder aimed at people’s joints of knees.”

Cuthbertson, a mate of Tautai’s, later said: “You don’t really need that in the game, but teams continue to coach it and it’s not going to be cracked down on until officials stand up and do something about it.”

But Wane said the suggestion Tautai had attacked Cuthbertson’s knees were not accurate.

“He hit him in the hip, and Cuthbertson lifts his leg up,” said Wane. “If a player can’t go in and make a proper rugby league tackle, when a bloke is in motion...

“Are we saying we can’t make tackles in case a player lands awkwardly? Because if we are, we’re going to change the game of rugby league.

“The panel agreed, he hit him in the hip, which is too high.

“If there’s a problem with T’s technique, then I’ll work on it - but the disciplinary panel saw sense and saw it wasn’t what everyone was talking about.”

Tautai’s reduced-ban, on appeal, came just a week after Sean O’Loughlin was hit with a one-game ban for a high challenge on Wakefield’s Chris Annakin - which prompted wide-spread debate among fans.

“Because of social media, everyone has comments,” said Wane. “Sean O’Loughlin got one game for a Grade C, but there’s nothing said about Ryan Atkins getting the same (punishment for the same charge).

“Because it’s Sean, people are talking about it.

“Maybe it should make me feel proud that, because it’s Wigan Warriors, people want to make a big deal of it.”

Josh Charnley also appealed his two-game ban for making contact with referee Robert Hicks, but it was thrown out.

“His comments to him were, ‘Can you look at the screen?’” revealed Wane. “They described it as forceful and aggressive - Josh is 110kgs, if that was forceful and aggressive he’d be on the floor.

“It was just a touch, but you can’t touch the referee.”