Any player who commits a shoulder charge using force will be automatically charged by the Match Review Committee from this weekend.
Head of Football Todd Greenberg said today the change to the rule would remove ambiguity about whether a player should be charged.
Mr Greenberg said the shoulder charge was dangerous and had potentially dire consequences if it went wrong.
While the NRL had made the shoulder charge illegal, the current rules mean offenders can escape a charge if there is “no forceful movement of the head or neck”.
Mr Greenberg said the rule would be simplified to require any shoulder charge with force to be charged automatically by the Match Review Committee based on the severity.
“We need to be clear about this . . . we cannot allow player welfare to be put at risk by shoulder charges,” Mr Greenberg said.
“A player carrying the ball cannot protect himself properly against the force of a shoulder charge.
“We have seen this type of tackle have tragic consequences recently and the NRL has an obligation to put player safety first.”
Mr Greenberg said players found guilty of shoulder charges risked lengthy suspensions.
A grade one shoulder charge offence carries a base penalty of 200 points and more serious breaches can result in suspensions of up to 8 matches – or more.
“In other words, anyone found guilty of using a shoulder charge with force will be suspended for at least one match,” he said.
“So there will be a real incentive for players and coaches to ensure that shoulder charges are taken out of the game.”