Paul Wellens accuses RL bosses of letting players down after horror injuries | The Sun

PAUL Wellens has slammed rugby league chiefs for letting players down after he was robbed of TWO stars for the rest of the season by ‘out of control’ Leigh ace John Asiata.

Agnatius Paasi faces nine months out while the St Helens boss claims Alex Walmsley is ‘second guessing whether rugby league is the sport for him’ after being ruled out for 12 weeks.

The former will definitely miss England’s series with Tonga while the latter is a serious doubt following the incidents in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final loss.

But Wellens is seething after the Rugby Football League’s match review panel decided not to charge Asiata, who is clear to play in the final, for attacking opponents’ knees.

He claims those making the decision did not examine medical reports before forming their opinion to clear the Leopards’ loose forward.

And as he faces being without Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Morgan Knowles because of tackles by the same player, he lashed out.

Wellens said: “The bloke is out of control. He’s just hurling himself at players’ knees. He used it against us in round three. This has been an accident waiting to happen.

“In my opinion, the RFL and the match review panel are culpable. They’ve had numerous opportunities to get him and influence the way he tackles and get him to stop doing it – they failed.



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“This isn’t a St Helens v Leigh thing. We need to make it a sport that’s safe to play. When we look at incidents like that and deem them legal, I have a real problem with it.

“In Agnatius and Alex, we’ve two extremely disappointed, angry, upset players that they’ve been left in this position and the game hasn’t protected them.

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“The RFL say that in their sentencing sidelines, there’s nothing there in which they could secure a charge. I’d tend to disagree. Even if they charged him with something, they’re saying, ‘We can’t accept this.’

“What we’ve done by not charging him is telling thousands of people who play rugby league every weekend that tackling technique is OK.

“I’m sure within that, they know it’s not OK but they had an opportunity to make a strong decision and took a weak one.”

Wellens went into the match officials’ room immediately after Saturday’s 12-10 loss to speak to referee Chris Kendall and has spoken to the RFL since.

But that has done nothing to quell his anger as he wonders whether the sport is now for his son after this call.

He added: “In my opinion and I think very few would disagree with me, this weekend the governing body has failed in its duty to protect its players.

“We had four players injured by a player tackling in a reckless and dangerous manner. Alex is having MCL surgery and Agnatius has torn ankle ligaments, a torn MCL and will also undergo an operation to have his ACL repaired.

“The RFL, before the match review panel met to adjudicate, was provided with detailed medical reports by our staff.

“When I spoke to the match review panel which had reviewed that game, they at 6.30pm on Monday after the decision not to charge John  Asiata, had still not seen those scan reports. What I want to ask is why?

“This isn’t an emotional response at losing a cup game but what we’ve got to consider when we’re making decisions not to charge people who tackle in that manner is we’re giving the green light for coaches and players at all levels to be able to tackle like that.

“As someone who loves rugby league, that doesn’t sit with me well. I have an eight-year-old son who plays with a smile on his face but if that’s the type of tackle we’re allowing, maybe rugby league is a game I don’t want my son playing any more.

“The players have been severely let down by the governing body.”

Asiata was examined by the match review panel for three incidents from Saturday’s game, none of which warranted a disciplinary charge.

On one, it says: “Player gets body onto the ground prior to contacting opponent’s legs and actions of players teammate push opponent back towards player.

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On the others, it is stated: “Player goes to make legitimate low tackle on person who is running towards him and arm is knocked away from wrapping by opponent’s leg.

“Player makes legitimate initial contact with upper thigh of opponent who is moving forward. Legitimate actions of teammate with upper body contact force opponent’s body in two different directions.”

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