Scott must be taken to task by NRL

ONE of the more common criticisms of rugby league - from those who don't particularly embrace the game, and also some players from a bygone era - is its propensity to be too predictable.

'Take it up for five then kick it' is the catch cry from the disinterested and the estranged.

And, in fairness, they often make an acceptable argument.

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Growing up, my fascination for the game came from the rare black and white TV images of the breathtakingly-brilliant Reg Gasnier scything through an opposing backline, or a cheeky Barry Muir annoying the hell out of opposing forwards.

I can even recall the Little Master, Clive Churchill, returning kicks and repeatedly beating opponents with absolute skill and blinding speed.

In later years it was the likes of Bob Fulton, Peter Sterling, Wally Lewis, Allan Langer, Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer who sometimes made me a tad guilty that I was being paid to watch them play.

Sheer brilliance, guile and an ability to read a game better than their opponent made them giants of the game, even though they were generally smaller in stature.

And yes, the modern game has become a little more stereotyped.

More emphasis is placed on defence and slowing down the play the ball, which does not allow the slighter, more skilful player the same latitude as in the past.

That is why - if found guilty of charges which are likely to be laid later today - the book needs to be thrown at Newcastle back-rower Beau Scott.

Blind Freddie could see that Scott targeted Johnathan Thurston in Townsville on Saturday night, and at least twice he stepped outside the boundary line.

Cheap shots by hitmen on brilliant players are from yesteryear and have no place in the modern game.

While they should not be a protected species, our ball players need to feel safe when plying their brilliant trade.

Knights coach Rick Stone would not have sent Scott on a mission to maim Thurston, but his language - both body and verbal - when quizzed at the post-match press conference was a dead giveaway that JT was a target.

"You don't get the two points up here unless you compete really hard, and that was our goal tonight," he said.

A cynic might translate that to mean "take out Thurston and we stop the Cowboys".

Ironically, though, the injury to Thurston which made him resemble the Elephant Man was purely an accident.

But late tackles when ball players such as Thurston have relaxed, is not only a cowardly act, it can also be lethal and needs to be nipped in the bud post haste.

And if Scott, normally a tough but fair competitor, is the fall guy, then so be it.

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