Finch vows to protect NRL kickers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Finch vows to protect NRL kickers

By David Beniuk 29/03/2009 03:48:22 PM Comments (0)

NRL referees boss Robert Finch says his officials are only responding to the requests of coaches to protect the game's kickers, and they will continue to do so.

Referees came under fire this weekend for what was perceived as a series of "soft" penalties for contact with kickers in general play.

Warriors coach Ivan Cleary and his Parramatta counterpart Daniel Anderson were among those to question the interpretation of the rule.

But Finch says there has been no crackdown and referees have merely responded to one of the coaches' main player safety concerns.

"Kick pressure, grapples and those sorts of things were all player safety issues (for coaches)," Finch told AAP on Sunday.

"We are implementing those requirements.

"There's been an agreement on this, this is the second year this has been in and we'll continue down this path."

He said coaches had been particularly concerned that their valuable playmakers were being targeted.

"It's the better players that are kicking for them so their concerns were that they didn't want the better players in the game being bashed out of the game, so we've actioned it," he said.

Cleary, responding to a penalty awarded to Brisbane skipper Darren Lockyer who appeared to be pulled over while kicking, said the interpretation had changed "wildly".

"I just think it's a real blight on the game at the moment and it's a predictability thing and no one wants that in the game," he told ABC radio.

"My argument would be wingers and fullbacks, they can sit under a high ball watching the ball come down and as soon as they catch it they can get hit by three blokes blind-sided."

Anderson was also critical.

"There has got to be some way where you can attack the preparation of the kicker so that he is not on song, it is as simple as that," he said.

"Maybe it is a bit heavy-handed at the moment."

But Finch said coaches had been reminded in November last year and this January that their request would be acted upon.

And he said there was still scope for pressuring a kicker.

"If a player's foot is on the ground you can make a tackle on that player but you can't drop a shoulder into him, you can't jam him because he is a defenceless person," he said.

"Make a normal tackle on him, not a problem. But don't drop a shoulder in, don't jam him when he's defenceless."

"There's plenty of ways to put pressure on a kicker other than hammering him."

But a kicker in the air could not be tackled, Finch said.

"If he's in the air, all bets are off, that's quite clearly a very dangerous act," he said.

Finch agreed there had been too many penalties for the offence, but said that was an issue for coaches rather than referees.

"What I've found is nine times out of 10 when a penalty is given for attacking a kicker in the air there ain't too many more of them following that," he said.

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