Thunder boss fuming over late hits

Newcastle Thunder coach coach Simon Finnigan (pictured) could be without prop Brad Walker for up to three months after a late hit in Saturday’s re-arranged Challenge Cup tie at Keighley Cougars left him with a shoulder injury.
“There is a real concern at the moment of protection towards the ball carrier especially at League 1 level,” said Finnigan.
“This weekend has seen one of my players potentially out of the game for the next 12 weeks, and unfortunately he is not the only one this season to suffer from this type of incident.
“We as coaches are constantly being told, and shown videos, about these incidents and how they will be dealt with, but I’m still waiting for a red card to be shown on the field by the officials. It’s all well and good a suspension coming after the fact, but 10 minutes in the bin at the time isn’t enough of a deterrent during a live game, especially when that foul act results in the attacking player leaving the field.
“Unless it starts to be dealt with properly by the match officials, we are going to start losing good attacking players who are willing to play direct at the line because they are worried about the late hits they receive after they have passed the ball.
“It’s an ugly part of the our game that needs fixing.”
The game was originally scheduled to take place the previous weekend but was one of four third round Challenge Cup ties fell victim to Storm Ciara. It was then brought forward another 24 hours in an attempt to beat Storm Dennis.
The cup cancellations meant that four League 1 clashes had to be postponed on Sunday to allow the Cup games to be played ahead of the next scheduled round this coming weekend. The fifth league game – North Wales v Doncaster – was also postponed on Sunday due to a waterlogged pitch.
“The weather has caused all sorts of chaos in the last couple of weeks and I just don’t understand why we play Rugby League in this country in January and February,” said Finnigan.
“I have always been baffled by that and it just seems to be getting worse.
“I’d have to be really convinced by a reason as to why we should start the season this early. I know we have to fit games in to the calendar, but there are a lot of smart people in this game who could make that calendar work in a time frame starting in March.
“There is just no value in starting earlier. Even when we do get them out there, the conditions just aren’t there and it’s not a spectacle for fans.
“Replaying games is always going to have a knock-on effect elsewhere. But it’s not just a fixture backlog, it’s also about the quality of the pitches we get these games on. We are trying to force games on muddy pitches and then that has a knock on effect when they don’t recover.
“It just doesn’t make sense to me, but this is how it is and we just need to keep plugging away.”