“If you watch the tackle, you can see I try to slot his head through, but it just gets caught in my arm and then I come down with downward pressure.
“I didn’t realise it was bad until I watched the replay on the big screen, that’s why I continued on with the tackle.
I can speak for myself and I daresay other people playing the game: no one intentionally tries to put people in those type of positions.
“I couldn’t apologise there and then because of the situation, so as soon as I could at half-time I walked up and apologised to him. Then I apologised to him at full-time.
“I like to play the game pretty tough and there is a fine line. I try to stay behind that fine line and I just got this tackle wrong.”
Barnett’s tackle on Melbourne forward Hughes cost him three weeks on the sidelines. It would have been longer still, five games in total, if he had taken his chances at the judiciary and lost. The incident sparked debate over whether the penalties for the manoeuvre are sufficient and has also resulted in vitriol being directed at Barnett from commentators and pundits.
Barnett is the first to admit he got it horribly wrong, but said personal attacks on his character were unwarranted.
“Some of the stuff I’ve heard, they’re having shots at me as a person as well,” he said.
“I find that disappointing because I don’t know those people and they definitely don’t know who I am as a person. If they knew who I was as a person, I’m not that type of bloke.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I definitely mean to do it. If I could take it back I would.
“It’s disappointing people are having a shot at me. I have to cop it on the chin. I won’t be the first or last person criticised for these type of tackles.
“Hopefully people learn from my tackle and other people’s tackles and we try to avoid them as best as possible. At the end of the day, thankfully no one was hurt. I wish I could take it all back and do another tackle.
“I had a few suspensions as a young fella for ill discipline, but this is one where I just got it wrong as a player. I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last.”
Barnett has played 33 straight games for the Knights, an indication he found the right balance between being aggressive and careless. The 25-year-old said the crusher needs to be outlawed and isn’t a move coached or practiced by players.
“Definitely, they are the type of tackles that injure people,” he said.
“Not one side in the comp would practice crusher tackles. The technique I used, I was just trying to flick him onto his back. I did three of them in the game earlier. Every team does it and there is little room for error. Unfortunately, I got it wrong and I wish I didn’t.
“I can speak for myself and I daresay other people playing the game: no one intentionally tries to put people in those type of positions.
“Sometimes you can’t help it. In my situation I could have helped it, but I went to put a bloke on his back and I got it wrong. It’s a human error.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.