NRL’s bunker move will stop diving: Smith

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith believes the NRL bunker taking a back seat was necessary to eliminate diving from rugby league.

NRL coaches recommended following a meeting last week that the bunker should be curtailed from making calls in live play.

Evidence from Thursday night’s clash between St George Illawarra and Canberra at Kogarah Oval would suggest the game’s governing body has heeded that call.

On-field officials missed a high shot by Joel Thompson on Raiders playmaker Blake Austin in the first half of the Dragons’ golden-point win, with the bunker not intervening to notify referees of the incident.

Thompson was later charged with a grade one high tackle charge by the judiciary on Friday and is facing a one-week ban.

Storm skipper Smith said the edict is the right thing to do given he believes players have been increasingly diving to win penalties via the video official.

“I don’t like how the bunker could have a say,” Smith said.

“I felt like there was a lot of guys laying down … I’m not saying all players are doing it but there are players out there that are doing it.

“I can understand why because that’s the way the game is going. You stay down, they review it, they see that their might have been some sort of foul play and your team receives a penalty.

“With two referees on the field now, and two touch judges, I can’t see how they’re going to miss too much. They pick up a fair bit.”

The bunker drew the ire, most notably, of coach Trent Robinson after the Sydney Roosters’ Anzac Day loss, when the NRL’s new technology intervened to penalise Dylan Napa late in the fixture.

In the same post-match press conference Robinson bemoaned the proliferation of diving, or players playing for penalties, in the NRL.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart believed the incident involving Thompson, which left Austin with a broken nose, would still be handled appropriately.

“He (Thompson) will go for that, he broke his nose,” Stuart said.

“But I think it will stop diving. I agree that the bunker should not come down and adjudicate on foul play.”

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