NRL has become touch footy: Hasler - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL has become touch footy: Hasler

By Todd Balym 14/04/2009 06:46:12 PM Comments (0)

Manly coach Des Hasler says rugby league has become a game of touch football with over-policing by referees taking dominant big men out of the game.

Hasler has been a vocal opponent to the dual-referee system introduced in 2009, which has been widely considered a success at speeding up the game.

But Hasler said it has led to a rise in penalty counts and the increased use of dummy half runners by teams to exploit slow marker defence.

"If you like touch footy then lets play touch footy," said Hasler.

"I think it's been over-kill. Around the ruck and those areas, some of the calls the referees are making probably are not all correct.

"I'm past worrying about it, just get on with it."

The change in the game has also led to less running by forwards with hookers and quick outside backs taking more runs out of dummy half.

NRL statistics from the first five rounds show that only 19 front rowers have averaged more than 100m gained per game in 2009 - 10 less than in the entire 2008 season.

Manly prop Josh Perry said he noticed that metre gainage had fallen among the forwards this year with more metres going to the little men.

"I spoke to Kitey (Manly prop Brent Kite) this morning and we've been watching other front rowers and seeing their metre gainage and there's not too many of us getting over 100m these days," said Perry.

"I don't know if it's bad for the game, but it's bad for our stats."

Hooker Matt Ballin said the Manly forward pack had been down on form over the opening five weeks of the NRL season but he is not concerned about their lowly 15th position on the table.

The Sea Eagles face a tough month of football ahead with South Sydney (away), North Queensland (away), Melbourne (home) and Brisbane (away) extremely dangerous games for last year's champions.

"I'm not sure whether it's a bit of a hangover from last year," said Ballin.

"I think we're building to be coming into form at the right end of the year. I don't think it matters too much losing games at the moment, but obviously you don't want to lose too many.

"As long as we're playing well to the middle and back end of the year is the main thing."

Despite their slow start Manly are also expecting to be hit hard by the looming representative season with five Test incumbents to either play for Australia or in the City-Country clash on May 8.

Prop Josh Perry said retaining his Test jumper for the grudge match with New Zealand was the furthest thought from his mind in the club's recent struggles.

"It's not something I've really thought about the last couple of weeks," said Perry.

"We just want to get Manly going well and get some wins on the board and the rest of that stuff takes care of itself.

"It's definitely a goal that you want to play for your country for sure but we want to get Manly going first."

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