Wests Tigers captain James Tamou has leapt to the defence of former Penrith teammate Jack Hetherington as he faces a high tackle ban, declaring: “I was the same at a young age and you want to take somebody’s head off.”
Hetherington could miss up to six weeks following his high shot on North Queensland flyer Valentine Holmes that resulted in a send-off.
The ex-Panthers forward has had six charges in 29 games, but his latest high tackle charge has been hailed “ridiculous” by his Canterbury teammates.
Other experts believe the forward’s unflattering judiciary record puts an unfair target on his head.
Canterbury Bulldogs player Jack Hetherington was sent off against the Cowboys for this high shot on Valentine Holmes. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied
Tamou, who spent three seasons at the Panthers alongside Hetherington, insists the firebrand isn’t a dirty player and is walking the tightrope as he learns the difference between aggression and poor discipline.
“I’ve been through it when I was younger,” Tamou said.
“You make a mistake, you let your team down and the first thing you want to do is try and take somebody’s head off.
“Again, it is all a learning curve for Jack. He is still young, and it is one of those things that will take time and he will be better for it.
“But I love Jack, I love him so much. I’ve been keeping a keen eye on him in the last few weeks, and he has been playing really well.”
For all Hetherington’s recent judiciary struggles, Tamou has no doubts that the Bulldogs forward is on the right track.
From experience, he knows finding the balance on the field as an enforcer can be a difficult task.
“But I’ll tell you what, honestly, he has gotten a lot better,” he said.
“Jack will continue to get better.
James Tamou insists his former Penrith teammate Jack Hetherington is just learning despite having had six charges in his past 29 games. Picture: Alix SweeneySource:News Corp Australia
“He understands that being sent off or having a couple of weeks out he is letting the team down, and he feels that more than anyone else.
“He doesn’t want to let anyone down, and that is what I love about Jack – he is very passionate and loyal.
“That (tackle) will hurt him, but it is all a learning curve. He is a great player, but it is just one of those things that you have to learn on the run.”
Hetherington has been hit with a grade three careless high tackle charge, which carries a base penalty of 300 points (three matches).
However, it also includes a loading for prior offences as well as carry-over points.
That means that even with an early guilty plea, he’ll miss five matches, a penalty that rises to six weeks if he fights the charge at the judiciary and loses.
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