Kerrod Walters: Contested scrums a backwards step

FORMER Brisbane, Queensland and Australian hooker Kerrod Walters has rubbished a push for a return to contested scrums as a backward step for rugby league.

Contested scrums was a hot topic on sports websites after the Warriors forward pack steamrolled Parramatta close to their try line for an old-fashioned pushover try.

A poll being conducted by asking if fans would like to see scrums contested was yesterday running at 95.58% in favour from almost 8000 votes.

But Walters, who packed into hundreds of scrums during his highly successful career at the highest level, said scrums in any form in the modern game were "a joke" and should be scrapped in favour of a hand-over.

"Every man and his dog packs into them, they're a complete waste of time," Walters told APN yesterday.

Walters, who said he regularly copped a smack in the face from an opposition second-rowers packing own with a loose arm, said a return to contested scrums or pushing in the scrum, would open the door to foul play.

"I copped a few in my day. Billy Johnstone (a noted boxer who played for the Bulldogs) got me I reckon 10 times in one scrum. I reckon he packed in with two loose arms," joked Walter whose Ipswich-born brothers Kevin and Steve also played for Australia.

Walters, who is recovering from recent heart bypass surgery, said teams were not using scrum to launch attacks so why keep them in the game.

"If you re-introduced contested scrums can you imagine how much time they would chew up and how much they would slow down the game,'' he said. "It would be a massive backward step for the game."

Walters understood fans may see them as creating some uncertainty when scrums were packed close to a try line with no guarantee which side would win the ball. "(But) we've moved on from those days," he said.

Others had different views, with Canterbury great Steve Mortimer supporting changes to scrums.

"Right now the scrum is an embarrassment. It looks absolutely shabby to the people watching the game and it's an insult to the integrity and the intelligence of rugby league supporters," he said.

"We need to get the players involved in the scrum contesting it again and the way to do that is by bringing back the differential penalty by penalising halfback who failed to put the ball in between the opposing front-rowers."

Manly hooker Matt Ballin said he had no desire to be squashed in a scrum against forwards who were 20kg heavier then him.

"Everyone just comes to the scrum for a break at the moment," he said.

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