Fired-up rugby league legend Phil Gould has warned the NRL risks losing viewers and fans, if its crackdown on head-high challenges continues.
The NZ Warriors consultant and rugby league legend insists, if the game carries on its current path, the aggression that fans love will be lost.
"If that's where we're going, let's go home," Gould has told Channel Nine’s 100% Footy. "Let's stop playing, let's take all this off and forget about the game.
"You're not allowed to play sport any more, because you might get hurt."
Gould believes Sydney Roosters star Victor Radley, who was sin-binned twice and placed on report four times last weekend, did nothing wrong and his suspension is just another instance of league shooting itself in the foot.
"Our game has done this to itself from periods of time and we just have to get through it," he says. "Players and coaches sort it out, as people off the field interfere with what happens on the field."
But players whose game is based around aggression fear being binned, knowing it can change a game in an instant.
"You're a man down on the field, and with an opponent or team who's on their game, they can score multiple times, so it puts a lot of pressure on the team that's defending," admits Warriors prop Bunty Afoa.
"We're not all going out there trying to take each other's heads off. It's a big part of the game, the contact - it's needed.
"I love the contact and that's a part of the game that I'm really passionate about, but if it's accidental, then it's accidental. You see a lot of players going for high shots these days, and give away penalties and 10 in the bin.
"It's your team that's suffering, so a lot of the boys are just cautious about it."
Towering (2m/6ft 7in) teammate Kane Evans agrees.
"It's frustrating for a tall lad like myself," he says. "If someone falls over, and their head hits my stomach or my chest, I'm going to get sent off, so it's sort of unfair but you’ve just got to adapt."
Players hope the current enforcement of the rules will be relaxed, with widespread concerns the game is changing before their eyes
"I think, over time, we'll hopefully find a good medium between the players and the NRL, so the game doesn't become too soft."
Soft or not, the NRL is holding firm to get head injuries out of the game.
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