Warriors coach Stephen Kearney is demanding an urgent law change from the NRL, before a serious injury occurs.
An ugly incident in the first half of yesterday's 40-6 win over the Bulldogs has put one of the NRL's most controversial rules in the spotlight, where defenders are permitted to tackle attacking players when they are in mid-air, leaping for a chip or bomb.
Warriors winger David Fusitu'a was dangerously close to being upended by his opposite number Christian Crichton, as he flew high to take a Blake Green bomb.
Crichton took Fusitua's legs out from underneath him, and Fusitu'a was almost tipped below the horiziontal, before landing awkwardly.
The 25-year-old was thankfully unscathed, but boos rang around Mt Smart Stadium when the tackle went unpunished, while Kearney was seething after the final whistle.
"Something needs to be done about that before someone gets really badly hurt," said Kearney. "It's not anything to do with [Christian] Crichton on the wing there, but there was no intention of him going for the footy...but the law allows him to be able to do that. His intention – what it looked like – was just to take his legs out."
Kearney was concerned for Fusitu'a, who is recognized as one of the most athletic players in the NRL, but will be increasingly targeted by opposition teams, looking to take advantage of the strange loophole in the rules.
"Everyone saw today," said Kearney. "David just needed to land the wrong way. It's legal to do that - but he could have ended up in a really bad position. [But] If I am defending the kick, catching as a defender, [I] can't be touched."
Kearney confirmed he would be contacting the NRL this week, and was confident other coaches would support him.
The current law was designed to give defenders more of an opportunity under the high ball, with the perception that they had little chance against on rushing attacking players with all of the forward momentum.
It's a noble initiative, but could also be a recipe for disaster, and lead to nasty falls with dire consequences.
"It is really a weird rule," agreed Fusitu'a. "I feel like it doesn't give too much protection for the attacking player but that's how the rule is. I'm just thankful that I didn't fall awkwardly and it didn't really hurt me too much."
Fusitu'a would support a rule change, but is unsure if it will happen.
"It's not in our control," said Fusitu'a. "But if they see fit to change it, for the betterment of the well-being of some of the catchers that [go] pretty high, then they will change it. There was no malice in it [yesterday], they were just playing to the rules. [But] it is quite dangerous."
Fusitu'a made a strong start to his 2019 campaign yesterday.
He contributed 125 running metres, served up a try for Solomone Kata after reeling in a Green bomb, and set up Nathaniel Roache's touchdown with a clever piece of skill.
"We tried to focus," said Fusitu'a. "Obviously the circumstances outside the game was pretty tragic and the boys knuckled down and gave people a little reason to smile
Fusitu'a led a team prayer on Friday night after the team dinner, as they dealt with the shocking news from Christchurch.
"Our team is made up from people from all around, some people from Australia, and this is their adopted home," said Fusitu'a. "It affects all of us in different ways. It was a good way to pay our respects and our condolences. A little prayer, coming together as a team.
This is just a game and the loss of life, you can't really put it into words….our hearts go out to those people."