NRL players who fake injury to “milk” penalties have been threatened with harsh rule changes if they continue the unsportsmanlike tactic.
Amid the league’s justified crackdown on high shots, gamesmanship has also crept in, with players deliberately staying down to draw a penalty.
There have been multiple examples of the questionable tactic, which is unsportsmanlike and goes against rugby league’s resilient culture.
Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie became the face of milking penalties during the Tigers’ round 13 win over a depleted Penrith outfit.
Laurie copped the hand of Robert Jennings to the face as he fell down in a tackle in the first half. He tried to get the ref’s attention before laying flat on the ground, attempting to appear concussed.
But as soon as referee Grant Atkins blew a penalty, Laurie bounced back to his feet, donning a big grin.
NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley believes the “milking” of penalties has gone too far and has placed the emphasis on the players to stop the tactic.
Annesley also said the game could introduce a head injury assessment for any player who acted like they had been hit in the head, or players could also be forced from the field for a period of time.
The match review committee also has the power to fine or suspend players found to be “faking” injury to receive a penalty.
“Are we seeing some gamesmanship around some of that? I think we are,” Annesley said.
“The easiest answer is for the players and coaches to address it. It’s not the nature of our game and never has been for players to feign injury.
“The only way we can stop it without changing the rules is for the players to stop it.
“If we think a trend develops or it continues, then we will be left at no alternative than rule change options to try and address it.”
Fox League analyst Corey Parker highlighted the fact there were fears the NRL’s crackdown on high shots could see players milking penalties when copping even the slightest bump to the head.
“We see there some gamesmanship, if you like, from Laurie. He laid down, got the penalty, straight back to his feet, smile on his face,” Corey Parker said.
“Now that’s the issue, that’s the issue a lot of people are having with what’s going on.”
Balmain Tigers great Steve Roach took a big exception to Laurie’s act.
“I’ve got an issue with it, especially from my team,” he said.
“The Wests Tigers laying down like that … this ain’t soccer.
“You’ve got to get to your feet. He won the penalty, but people won’t appreciate that.”