Cronulla star Michael Ennis believes the best way to eliminate gamesmanship in rugby league is by removing the video replays available to NRL referees.
Glenn Stewart’s confession that he took a dive to hoodwink match officials and deny North Queensland a try against South Sydney on Monday night has exposed the levels of desperation that players – and teams – will go to to secure two competition points.
Stewart’s play acting came three days after Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson claimed that players lying down to win a penalty had reached “epidemic” proportions.
“No one wants to write about it, no one wants to talk about it, but no one likes looking at it,” Robinson said after being particularly peeved at Brisbane five-eighth Anthony Milford staying down against the Roosters without even earning a penalty upon a video replay review.
“It shouldn’t be in our game, but it’s creeping in more and more. It’s not what we like.”
St George Illawarra playmaker Benji Marshall said he could see where Robinson was coming from, but estimated Dragons had stayed down “probably up to 12 times” in their six games this season in the hope of winning a penalty.
“In the heat of the battle, a lot of games are won off the back of momentum and all it takes is one penalty out of your half to make your way down the other end to give yourself a chance at scoring,” Marshall said on Fox Sports’ NRL 360.
“And if you get hit in the nose and they miss it, well the rule is they can’t make contact with the head. So why not just stay down until the refs go up and have a look?”
Ennis, Canterbury’s long-time skipper who fans regard as captain pest, acknowledged there was nothing illegal in staying down, but said such antics were a stain on the game.
“There’s no doubt that there would be people out there saying I shouldn’t comment on it because I’ve stayed down at times before too,” Ennis said.
“But if that’s removed, then it won’t happen and, yeah, I’d like to see it removed … whilst ever that is in our game, that review system, you’ll continue to see it.
“As Trent Robinson said, if (a tackle) is deemed high and the referees do miss it, then you’re going to get found out later anyway.
“For years and years and years we had a wonderful game and a great product without out.”