Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys confirmed earlier in the week that he was looking into the issue ahead of a crucial meeting.
At this meeting, V’landys is set to warn coaches of a possible increase in six-again calls as a way of addressing the wrestling tactics, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
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But Raiders coach Stuart has pushed back at claims wrestling has increased, accusing rival coaches of pushing their own agendas at the detriment of the game as a whole.
“I’m enjoying the game as a spectacle a lot more than what I was at this time last year,” he told The Herald.
“It’s self invested interest from a coach, or coaches, that are talking to the media. If they want to have less stoppages, they’ve got to have players stop faking crusher tackles and going down with a slight tap across the chin.
“We need to get up and play the ball and stop forcing the referee into penalty. That’s where a lot of the stoppages are coming from.“I understand why we are telling our players to do it because the game allows it to happen, so I can’t blame the coaches.”
He was not alone in feeling that way too, with Griffin telling The Herald that the game is flowing a “bit better this year” and that there is “more rhythm” to the matches.
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The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield revealed on Fox League’s ‘NRL 360’ that he heard V’landys has passed his concerns onto Andrew Abdo, Graham Annesley and the referees.
“If we get a Magic Round crackdown this weekend, I’m going to be that dirty,” he said.
“I’m really enjoying the footy this year. I don’t think we need it.”
V’landys told The Herald that fatigue factor is “important” in the game “so that we see the best of the likes of James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic and Kalyn Ponga”.
But Paul Kent did not see much logic in that argument.
“The flipside is last year when all these players were running amok, we were getting blowout scores,” he said.
“Everyone was saying: ‘We don’t want this’. Now we’re having these closer games.”
Former Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater is not a fan of any wholesale changes either.
“The wrestle has always been in the game,” Slater said on 2GB’s ‘Wide World of Sports’ radio.
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“I don’t know what game we’ve been watching if we think teams aren’t supposed to slow the ruck down. That’s their job. Defensive teams want to play slow, attacking teams want to play fast. That’s been happening ever since I’ve watched rugby league.
“If you’re going to do it, then do it. Don’t worry about saying it. Just police it. I think it’s been good. I don’t even know what we’re talking about. We’re looking at data and stats. The product is good, just leave it.”
NRL head of football Graham Annesley did add that the threat of penalties inside 40 metres has seen teams become more reluctant to engage in wrestling tactics.
“One of the things we’ve noticed in our observations watching the first four weeks of the competition, we think teams last year were more willing to concede six-agains when they had the opposition in poor field position,” he said.
“In other words, ‘Let’s try to push the envelope a little bit when they’re down the other end of the field’. I don’t think the referees have quite adapted as well as they could have at this stage. This information will get relayed to referees and they will be tweaking some things. If we need to adjust the way the game is being played, we’ll adjust.”