Sheffield coach Aston hits out at disciplinary system again

This story first appeared in Monday’s League Express.

Sheffield Eagles boss Mark Aston has fired a second broadside at the game’s disciplinary process after Batley threequarter Jason Crookes escaped suspension over a recent incident.

Aston last week labelled the process as “disgraceful” in League Express following two separate incidents in the game at Barrow. And he says the decision not to ban Crookes over an off-the-ball challenge on Eagles threequarter Josh Toole is worse than both of them.

Aston said: “It just shows the incompetence of the system.

“The report says that there is body-to-body contact – how in that case then can my player have left the field concussed and not be allowed to return by the doctor?

“He was then ruled out for seven days after that. Somebody on this disciplinary procedure needs to explain to me how that happens if there isn’t contact with the head.

“How do they think it has happened? It’s a raised forearm, it isn’t shoulder-to-shoulder, and it’s happened so far off the ball that my player, Josh Toole, couldn’t fend for himself or defend himself.

“He had no idea what was coming – he was watching the ball. How can a player being so unprotected and getting hit like that not be a ban? In this era where we hear so much about player welfare, where is the player welfare in that? Or are they just paying lip service to it?

“The week before, Josh Toole got a two-match ban – having never been sent off in his career – for lifting a leg in what was described as being reckless. What is the Jason Crookes incident if it isn’t reckless? It’s the worst thing I’ve seen in years and there’s no suspension.”

The official RFL report over the matter read: “Player makes forceful body-to-body contact with opponent off the ball. Player makes no attempt to wrap with arms. Initial contact from player’s shoulder to opponent’s chest area. Worthy of on-field penalty.”