MARK CARROLL: Reed Mahoney needs to be put back in his box and the Origin rookie NSW MUST pick

Mark Carroll
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Reed Mahoney clashes with Alex Seyfarth on Saturday.
Reed Mahoney clashes with Alex Seyfarth on Saturday. Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

The NRL has a pest problem it needs to stamp out in a hurry.

As an old front rower, I was embarrassed by what unfolded during the Bulldogs-Tigers game at Accor Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

In the second half, the footy went out the window as wannabe tough guys rolled from one melee to the next. Grown men grabbing jerseys and calling each other names.

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It was tiresome, ruined the game as a spectacle, and the fans have had enough.

Leading the way was nuggety little Bulldogs hooker Reed Mahoney.

You can always count on this guy to fly in and escalate things the moment there’s any sort of disagreement. He’ll go for the biggest bloke - who’s already steamed up - and try and provoke him to the point where he does something stupid.

A few weeks ago, Mahoney went after Newcastle’s Jack Hetherington and the fiery Knights forward was given 10 in the bin – then scuffled with Mahoney in the tunnel.

At Accor Stadium he ran in to harass Alex Seyfarth. The Tigers forward launched a headbutt in response which wouldn’t have knocked the skin off a rice pudding. But it didn’t matter to the Bunker and Seyfarth was sin-binned. Game over for the Tigers.

Some might say (especially Bulldogs fans) “well done” to Mahoney.

But I’ve had a gutful of players being baited and, judging by social media, plenty of others feel the same way.

I even heard the great Andrew “Joey” Johns call Mahoney’s tactics “rubbish” and I completely agree.

You can trace it all back to the NRL’s well-intentioned no-punch policy, brought in after Paul Gallen used Nate Myles’ head as a punching bag during a State of Origin game in 2013.

And it’s not just Mahoney getting away with this sort of stuff. The new rule has created an uprising of pests.

Big-mouths have become Bravehearts.

They know they can rile up guys twice their size because there’s no consequences for their annoying behaviour.

Now it’s time for a change of policy.

If I was running the NRL I would introduce a two-punch permit.

That’s right - if you get someone like Reed Mahoney in your face, you get two cracks to defend yourself.

If you throw a third, sorry, but you’re off.

To stop players abusing the system, the Bunker can decide if the punches were an act of a player rightfully defending himself … or just a thug looking to bend the rules.

I reckon this change in policy would have immediate benefits.

It sounds a little barbaric but hear me out.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 04: Viliame Kikau of the Bulldogs clashes with Alex Seyfarth of the Tigers during the round nine NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Wests Tigers at Accor Stadium, on May 04, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Viliame Kikau clashes with Alex Seyfarth on Saturday. The big boys had it under control so Reed Mahoney should have stayed away. Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

The flow of the game would improve, because you would suddenly see less of these pathetic melees where everyone tries to look tough.

Guys that can’t fight will stop and think “hang on… maybe I should steer clear of that bloke or I could end up snoring on the grass”.

The mere thought of copping one on the chin would be a major deterrent and the pests will hopefully buzz off and play some footy.

Wouldn’t that be nice!

In my day there was no way a little bloke would get in the face of a Mark Geyer, Les Davidson or “Steve Blocker” Roach. They knew what would be coming back in their direction.

The other way to get them was at scrum time.

I used to wear size 15 boots with 20mm studs so if a cheeky halfback ventured too close, I’d stomp on his kicking foot. Ricky Stuart – one of the best nigglers – would hop around cursing.

Only one guy threw a punch in response and that was Gary “The Whiz” Freeman. I quickly grabbed him and pulled him into the scrum where he was sorted out.

I realise times have changed in terms of player welfare, but I’ve got no doubt players are using the NRL’s anti-punching rules as a way of targeting hot-heads in the opposition to get a reaction and a penalty. They see it as a chance to reduce the other team to 12 men.

It’s not good to watch and it’s time Peter Vlandys and Andrew Abdo did something to eradicate the pests.

AND DON’T GET ME STARTED

Here’s a message for NSW selectors – can you PLEASE give Cameron McInnes his State of Origin debut.

He’s been around the squad for the past couple of years and he’s just the sort of guy we need to end Queensland’s two-year winning run.

The Sharks lock is purpose-built for Origin combat. He puts his body on the line not just every game – but every tackle. Just have a look at his melon!

He’s missing a tooth and he estimates he’s had 300 stitches in his head during his career.

Fair dinkum this bloke gets opened up more often than the Rabbitohs defensive line!

McInnes is a workaholic backrower who will fill the void left by the injured Cameron Murray. He can also play dummy-half and that versatility is crucial in the Origin arena, something the Blues have lacked in recent seasons.

And most importantly he’s playing top footy.

McInnes is a major part of a Sharks team that is sitting on top of the NRL ladder.

Michael Maguire now needs to make him part of the Blues team for Origin I.

Cameron Mcinnes would be a perfect fit for the NSW Origin team.
Cameron Mcinnes would be a perfect fit for the NSW Origin team. Credit: JAMES GOURLEY/AAPIMAGE

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