Phil Brooks, known to millions of people around the world as wrestler CM Punk – the arch villain of the multibillion-dollar WWE industry – believes the NRL could fine the grapple tackle and other MMA-inspired moves out of existence.
Punk, a native of Chicago, was shocked by some of the vision The Sun-Herald compiled for him of MMA/wrestling-style moves that have been used in rugby league. His response to the sight of players being choked was to suggest the NRL follow the NFL’s lead and fine illegal play out of the game.
”If an NFL player tilts his head, points his helmet at an opponent and then hits him, he can get fined $40,000, while repeat offenders are fined $100,000,” he said. ”I think each rugby league tackle needs to be reviewed separately because there were a few [on the DVD] that looked like accidents while others looked like the guy was deliberately slapping on a rear naked choke [a strangulation technique]. You need to judiciously handle each case separately; in a lot of cases you can tell if someone did something maliciously or if it was an accident and go from there.”
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One player who’d welcome Punk’s solution was Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah who said he opposed the UFC and wrestling techniques when he was asked if they had evolved to become part of the code.
”I hope not,” Farah said. ”I don’t want [rugby league] to become a UFC type thing … I want to see the traditional tackle being rewarded, when [a player] makes a good tackle around the legs. You don’t see them too often because these days the tackling technique is to catch [the attacking player], hold them up so a third guy comes in and tackles him around the legs so the ball carrier can be twisted and turned on their backs.”
However, he advised the NRL not to follow the NFL and fine players for what he called ”hard hits”. The NFL has taken a stand against the rise of concussions – and the long-term damage they cause – by clamping down on contact they deem as being too hard.
”Rugby [league] is a rough sport,” Punk said. ”In wrestling I hear guys in the locker-room saying ‘oh I’ve sprained my finger’ and there’s guys like me who shake our head in disbelief … ‘I mean, you sprained your finger?’ In American football they’re cutting down on hard hits which doesn’t make sense to me because it’s football … you get the guy who has the ball and tackle him.”