The Saskatchewan Roughriders held a closed practice on Thursday as they prepare to face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Saturday’s Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field (1:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
With accusations that the Riders faked injuries in last week’s 38-24 Labour Day Classic victory over Winnipeg, there’s talk CFL referees may look to penalize Saskatchewan for such tactics in Week 12. However those rumours haven’t yet spread to the Rider locker room.
“That’s the first I ever heard of that,” snorted Rider lineman Brendon Labatte. “I don’t know how you dictate what’s real, what’s minor or what’s a little nick. I was out for three plays last week because of a hand issue. If they’re going to look to flag me for something like that, that’s a pretty subjective call.”
Rider defensive lineman Eddie Steele was one of the players accused of “faking” injury last week, but says that talk is hogwash.
“Football’s a fast, physical game,” said the Winnipeg product. “Player safety first, you know what I mean? I don’t care what people on the outside think. If I’m hurt, I’m not going to jeopardize myself. I’m going to go down. I don’t know how the other guys on my team are feeling but I can sure enough speak for them in saying we’re worried about player health and player safety first. That’s where we stand with that.
“Injuries are going to be kept in-house. When people are accusing us of faking injuries, that’s not the case. We’re worried about our health first.”
Steele was asked if he expects the Bombers to resort to “selling” injuries in this week’s return engagement.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about resorting to,” Steele continued. “Injuries happen in a game and that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t know about any planned situation to try and slow them down. I just know injuries happen in a fast, physical football game and that’s how it goes.”
Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones says the entire matter will be dealt with by the CFL’s officiating department.
“That’s pretty much for the league,” Jones advised. “Player safety’s one of our biggest issues and the league has addressed it as making it a priority. It’s not my place to judge or comment on that.”