David Shillington July 27, 2012
Raiders captain David Shillington. Photo: Quentin Jones
The shoulder charge is likely to go the way of the spear tackle and be rubbed out of the game.
Players won't risk a massive suspension if they are only slightly off and make contact with the head.
Greg Inglis's much-discussed shot on Dean Young from last weekend's Rabbitohs v Dragons game has earned the Queensland star a three-week ban.
That suspension serves as a clear warning that any contact with the head is going to result in a lengthy stint on the sidelines.
When done right, the shoulder charge is one of the most dynamic and crowd-pleasing parts of our game.
Fans rise off their seats, yell their lungs out and get caught up in the excitement of seeing a powerful forward, and the odd back, charge out of the defensive line and floor their opponent with a cement-laden shoulder.
A great shoulder charge is also the perfect way to fire up your teammates, especially when things are going against you.
The television networks can't get enough of it either, replaying sensational shots over and over again on highlights reels.
Yet the health and warfare of the players cannot be underestimated if a shoulder charge misses its mark.
It only takes a small deviation for what was going to be a legitimate shot to the body to make contact with the head.
It's no different to a high tackle.
Nobody wants to see players leave the ground with broken jaws and fractured eye sockets or suffer serious concussions.
The future of the shoulder charge is at a crossroads similar to what faced the spear tackle several years ago.
A common practice in the old days, the game's governing body has cracked down hard on players being lifted above the horizontal in a tackle and driven into the ground with their neck and head.
Any hint of that occurring in the modern game draws a penalty, while a serious indiscretion can result in a lengthy ban.
I remember my Raiders teammate Tom Learoyd-Lahrs copped a heavy suspension for a lifting tackle on Ben Ross in a game against Newcastle in 2008.
Since then, it's rare to see anyone front the judiciary for that type of tackle.
Techniques have changed according to the rules, which have been put in place to protect a players' safety.
That is exactly what will happen with the shoulder charge.
While we all love putting a big shot on, the risk of getting it fractionally wrong and knowing what the ramifications are will result in less players taking that chance.
Shoulder charge or not, we know we're going to have to be at our best if we want to remain on course to reach our goal of playing in the finals.
There's a lot of belief after the way we thrashed the Sharks last week, but we know it will count for nothing if we can't back it up against the Newcastle Knights at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
We took the Titans lightly in our last game in front of our home fans, and can't afford to do that against a committed Knights outfit.
David Shillington plays prop for the Canberra Raiders