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NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley admits players are milking penalties

The NRL could introduce laws to deter players from diving after admitting some players are milking penalties as part of the high tackle crackdown.

League officials on Tuesday admitted referees erred in sending Brisbane forward Kobe Hetherington off in Canberra, after Corey Harawira-Naera was ankle tapped onto his shoulder.

The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley also admitted Gold Coast captain Kevin Proctor should have been sin-binned for his high shot on Joey Manu, which was only placed on report.

Highlighting the inconsistency in the calls, Proctor ended up with a one-game ban for the high shot while Hetherington copped only a fine from the match review committee.

But it was Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson’s comments Proctor would have been sin-binned had Manu stayed down after the hit that forced a reaction.

Annesley on Tuesday urged players not to fall into the habit of gamesmanship to earn penalties, but said the league would consider introducing rules next year to stop the issue.

The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley admitted Gold Coast captain Kevin Proctor should have been sin-binned for his high shot on Joey Manu (pictured). Credit: Getty

“Are we seeing some gamesmanship around some of that. I think we are,” Annesley said.

“The easiest answer is for the players and coaches to address it. It’s not the nature of our game and never has been for players to feign injury.

“The only way we can stop it without changing the rules is for the players to stop it.

“If we think a trend develops or it continues, then we will be left at no alternative than rule change options to try and address it.”

Annesley admitted there was no obvious solution, but options include forcing players off the field if they stay down after a tackle or even ensuring they are sent for a 15-minute HIA.

Kobe Hetherington of the Broncos leaves the field after being sent off during the round 14.
Kobe Hetherington of the Broncos leaves the field after being sent off during the round 14. Credit: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

The NRL has previously floated charging players with contrary conduct if they believe they are faking injury, but those charged would be incredibly hard to prove.

Meanwhile, Annesley remains of the opinion that true consistency will never be reached for foul play, with coaches claiming this weekend they have less clarity on the issue than before Magic Round.

But he did claim Hetherington should only have been sin-binned for his tackle on Harawira-Naera, after he fell forward onto his shoulder after an ankle tap from Tyson Gamble.

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