No one could accuse the NRL of unwillingness to muck with the rules of the game at any time, pre, post, or midseason, but they might be onto something with their move to alleviate the current status quo that finds dummy halves deliberately throwing the ball into opposition players in order to be awarded a penalty.
Neither could anyone accuse the players of not adapting to the rules they are handed.
Two instances during Round 11 caught the attention of those whose unenviable task is to supply rules that do not invite creative ways to bend things to best advantage.
In the game between the Parramatta Eels and the New Zealand Warriors, won 24 – 14, by the way, by the surprising Kiwi entrant of the Telstra 2018 NRL Premiership competition, the Eels’ Will Smith deliberately bounced a ball off the chest of the prostrate Issac Luke, who was on the ground rolling away from the tackle.
In the other instance, in the game between the Brisbane Broncos and the Sydney Roosters, won 28 – 22 by the Broncos, five-eighth Anthony Milford drew a penalty by passing a ball directly behind him into the Roosters’ Dylan Napa, who was in the act of getting on his feet in order to return to the defensive line.
NRL Chief Exec Todd Greenberg is on record as having directed the referees to crack down on the penalty milkers.
“I jumped onto this (Monday),” Greenberg told NRL 360.“I watched some of these examples over the weekend.It was a bad look for the game, and in simple terms, not in the spirit of the game.I’ve directed the referees again, if they see a player like that deliberately throw the ball into another, they should blow a penalty to the opposition team.You’ll see that happen this weekend.”
It would seem as though the NRL has a credibility issue with which to deal. Less than half the season is elapsed, yet the 2018 NRL has already passed the entire 2017 season in terms of sin-binnings and shots at goal.