Refs won't be on a grapple blitz - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Refs won't be on a grapple blitz

By Todd Balym and Daniel Pace 16/08/2007 06:24:28 PM Comments (0)

Referees' boss Robert Finch is adamant whistleblowers will not buckle under the grapple tackle pressure amid fears players will attempt to exploit the hysteria into a penalty blitz.

The controversy surrounding the illegal grapple tackle this week, and its new cousin the `crusher', prompted the NRL to make amendments to the rules to allow judicial action against perpetrators.

But Finch says referees won't change how they handle grapple tackles this weekend, claiming his men have consistently cracked down on the offence all season.

"If they see it we will penalise it, as we have been doing for the last round and all the way back to round one," said Finch.

There are fears players will attempt to capitalise on the recent media coverage of the grapple by trying to convince referees of every minor indiscretion to gain a penalty.

Gold Coast coach John Cartwright has warned his side to steer clear of any neck contact this Sunday against Sydney Roosters, fearing a penalty blitz.

"I think there could be a lot of penalties this week for any intention around the neck," said Cartwright.

"We have to make sure we're aware that we have to stay away from that region."

Finch, however, says players will be wasting their time and energy with unwarranted appealing for grapples.

"We are not going to go into any hysterical crack down,' said Finch.

"We need to identify them when we see them and we have seen them for 23 rounds.

"We will remain composed and use the indicators that we've used all year."

But a penalty blitz may just be the answer to eradicating the tackle from the game.

"If you're getting 10 penalties a game for grapple tackles then they'll stop that tackle real quick," said Cartwright.

"The referees just have to keep blowing the whistle. Penalties kill you."

The policing of the new crusher technique will be a difficult area for referees, with Finch admitting most are undetectable by the man in the middle.

The NRL has now made it illegal to use any part of the body to apply unnecessary force to an opponent's head, neck or spinal column.

Finch says it will be up to touch judges to report on the crusher, as most referees won't be in a position to make a visual ruling on defenders.

"The new interpretation is going to be a little bit hard to referee and they will have to be guided by the sidelines," he said.

"It is hard to see because normally the defender has his back to the referee which makes it very difficult to see, but you can get a view in most instances from the sideline.

"But we are aware of it and we can see a player who is obviously driving with his legs forward and is putting more pressure on the ball carrier."

And Finch reassured Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy over his fears that other clubs had raised the grapple issue to help earn penalties against the Storm.

"We don't talk in specifics about any specific team," he said.

"We have penalised grapples across every team this year so whether it be Melbourne or whoever, every side has been penalised for it."

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