Tony Smith calls for RFL clarity after two more banned for testicle grabbing

Tony Smith wants the RFL to clarify its rules after Tom Lineham and Jordan Abdull became the latest players banned for grabbing opponents’ privates.

Warrington winger Lineham was handed an eight-match suspension and Hull KR halfback Abdull two after both being found guilty of  “other contrary behaviour”.

It follows St Helens winger Tommy Makinson receiving a five-match ban for the same offence last month. Hull KR boss Smith says that case has changed how the sport’s disciplinary process handles the sensitive issue.

Smith said: “A month ago or prior to Tommy Makinson’s incident it was different. When somebody goes between the legs to try and make a tackle, sometimes it gets picked up by referees and sometimes it doesn’t.

“The whole thing has changed now because of what happened with Tommy. It’s brought something to light that now is deemed something else.

“I just think the league needs to put something out there to say hey listen, if you go between somebody’s legs, you run the risk of going to the judiciary.

“It’s topical at the moment because we’ve seen a couple of incidents. I just think it’s changed how we look at how people tackle and what they grab hold of by mistake.”

Speaking before Abdull’s hearing by video link on Tuesday evening, Smith said he believed his case – involving St Helens forward James Bentley – was completely accidental. Abdull pleaded guilty but successfully appealed the severity of his charge.

Smith said: “The tackle between the legs has gone on for years and it’s not for any unsavoury reasons. Some accidents have happened over the years where people have tried to grab a pair of shorts, or the inner thigh to make a tackle. That’s what Jordan was doing.

“Sometimes that goes astray and an accident happens, and I think if you watch Jordan, he reacts that way. He was like ‘I didn’t get the shorts, I may have got something else’ and he pulls his hand out straight away.

“If this is the way then put something out to prevent it, some education – if you do make that tackle in the future you’re likely to go to the judiciary. That same tackle a month ago, he wouldn’t have been in the judiciary, no way.”

Both players will now miss their side’s Challenge Cup quarter-finals at weekend, with Lineham effectively ruled out of the entire competition for as long as Warrington stay in it. The winger contested his charge but was found guilty and also fined £500.

Earlier, St Helens centre Kevin Naiqama successfully had his high tackle charge downgraded to escape suspension and make himself available to face Warrington on Saturday.

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