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Wane: Watts head-high tackle ‘just cannot happen in our game’

England head coach Shaun Wane says the head-high tackle for which Castleford Tigers’ Liam Watts received a red card against Wigan Warriors at the weekend “just cannot happen in our game”.

Watts pleaded guilty to contact with the head of Wigan’s Tyler Dupree during his side’s 32-4 defeat to the Warriors but failed to have his Grade E charge downgraded at Tuesday’s tribunal and will now serve a four-match ban and be fined £750.

Tigers head coach Craig Lingard said he was not sure what Watts was meant to do in that situation, with team-mate Joe Westerman having made initial contact with Dupree.

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Castleford’s Watts was sent off against Wigan for a high tackle

Asked by Sky Sports’ Jenna Brooks if he could understand Lingard’s take, Wane said: “No, not one bit.

“We know you just can’t make contact with people’s heads with your shoulder without wrapping your arm round.

“Whether I agree with it or not, that is the rule. We know it just cannot happen in our game. I don’t understand where Craig is coming from.”

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 22/10/2023 - Rugby League - International Test Series - England v Tonga - The Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens, England - Shaun Wane is interviewed.
Image: Shaun Wane: ‘We know you just can’t make contact with people’s heads with your shoulder without wrapping your arm round’

Lingard: What was Watts supposed to do?

Lingard had said after the incident: “I know there’s a big thing about head contacts in rugby league and we’re trying to make the sport safer, which we need to do.

“We’ve had head coaches’ meetings about what constitutes a red card and mitigating circumstances.

“We’ve been trying to teach players new habits. [But] I just don’t know what we expect Liam to do there.

“In my opinion, the ball carrier has come into contact and whether he’s deliberately lowered his height or slipped, his height has lowered.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 17/02/2024 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 1 - Castleford Tigers v Wigan Warriors - the Mend A Hose Jungle, Castleford, England - Referee Tom Grant red-cards Castleford's Liam Watts (r) as Joe Westerman looks on in disbelief.
Image: Watts’ suspension was upheld at an independent tribunal

“If someone flies out of the line and whacks somebody around the head deliberately or carelessly, you can wear that but I just can’t wear this one.

“As a coach, how can I coach my players for that to not happen again? I can’t coach anybody to do that.

“The mitigating circumstances there for me were the player was going down towards the ground.”

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