Leigh Leopards owner Derek Beaumont reacts to John Asiata tackle debate and Jon Wilkin’s comments

LAST weekend’s Challenge Cup semi-finals were some of the most ferocious games witnessed in 2023.

Whilst Hull KR secured a Wembley spot with an 11-10 win over the Wigan Warriors, Leigh Leopards will travel to the capital for the first time since 1971 following a 12-10 triumph over St Helens.

However, the latter clash has thrown up a number of flashpoints – not least the injuries to four Saints players, including season-ending injuries for Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi.

At the heart of those flashpoints is Leigh captain John Asiata, who was cited three times by the Disciplinary Match Review Panel in the aftermath of that semi-final but not charged.

That left Saints head coach Paul Wellens furious, with the Merseyside club’s boss slamming the governing body in its failure to “protect its players”.

Meanwhile, Leigh forward Tom Amone has defended Asiata against threats being sent to the latter online whilst Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin called the tackles “reckless” and “career-ending”.

Wilkin went further, stating: “I watched it live and it was a such a strange thing. We are obsessed with tackle height in rugby and John Asiata tackling like that is opening himself up to concussive injuries. The only time I got concussed as a player was when I tackled too low.

“We need to get the tackle height out of the narrative, tackling height isn’t an issue as defending players often get knocked out more than attacking players.

“What John Asiata has done is recklessly and with commitment, gone in at the lower limbs of a player – not with the intention of causing injury, but with the intention of felling them.

“If he had used that same technique and other players had been involved in the tackle, he would have been sent clear off because it is a cannonball tackle.”

Now, Leopards owner Derek Beaumont has had his say, commenting on the two-match ban being given to Saints’ Sione Mata’utia during the game for a late shot on Leigh’s Ben Reynolds as well as the Asiata incident.

Beaumont tweeted: “What we all agree is dangerous is late unnecessary challenges to the head of an opponent with a shoulder that causes flexion! This was punished with 2 match ban inflicted on reynolds! Asiata plays tough and tackles big men low that try to target running over him! Nothing more 🏉”