Jack Hetherington is a State of Origin-quality player is he curbs his wild aggression, ex-NSW coach Phil Gould says.
Jack Hetherington is a State of Origin-quality player is he curbs his wild aggression, legendary NSW coach Phil Gould says.
The Bulldogs prop on Tuesday copped a five-game ban for a coathanger hit on Cowboys star Valentine Holmes, which saw him given a rare send-off.
Gould, who oversaw Hetherington in his former role as Penrith Panthers football boss, said that “everyone’s tried” to temper the big forward.
“Jack’s got to improve his tackle technique,” Gould said on 100% Footy.
“Poor old Jack … Jack is an elite player, I’m telling you. Jack is Origin class.
“He is an elite athlete, he is an elite talent, I’m telling you. He is really special.”
Gould did not agree with Hetherington being sent off but said that the fiery front-rower had already built a reputation for hyper-aggressive play. He copped a four-game ban last year for a hit on Manly’s Martin Taupau, while playing on loan with the New Zealand Warriors.
Hetherington has now been charged seven times since his 2018 debut. He has been banned for a total of 10 matches despite playing just 29; a poor record that bumped up his potential suspension for the Holmes hit (a grade three careless high tackle) from a base charge of three games.
Former Blues captain Paul Gallen suggested that Hetherington needed a strong intervention, as he once got from the right-hand man of supercoach Jack Gibson. Ron Massey once told a young Gallen that his abrasive play made him a “f—ing soft cock”, only the start of an hour-long dressing-down that helped transform the Sharks star from a serial offender to an all-time great.
“You know what he needs? He needs a Ron Massey moment that I had in my career,” Gallen said of Hetherington on 100% Footy.
“That’s what he needs because I see that [talent] in him as well. I see him as being a good player.
“I see him as doing dumb things and you just want to shake him and say, ‘Mate – it’s not tough. You can’t be a tough guy on the field anymore, it doesn’t work these days’.”
Gould replied: “Paul, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the field or off the field. Once his pulse gets over 160, the brain switches off.
“People have tried [to teach him otherwise]. Everyone’s tried. It’s really in Jack’s …
“He reminds me a lot of Adrian Morley because when Adrian first came to Australia, his judiciary record was just spiralling out of control but he contained it and he saw the error of his ways and he really started to smooth himself out.
“I hope Jack does because I know he is an elite player. He’s an elite quality footballer. He just keeps getting in his own way.”
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