Controversial NRL field goal change will ‘ruin games, kill the field goal’ as Sam Walker denied in Roosters match against Broncos in Las Vegas


The NRL Vegas trip went almost as perfectly as it possibly could, but it wouldn’t be the NRL without a controversy.

The second game of the double-header between the Roosters and Broncos was delivering a classic as the sides put their all into the clash.

While the Roosters claimed the 20-10 victory, they didn’t have it all their own way, particularly on the verge of half-time.

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A loose pass for an intercept for Joey Manu was all that really split the teams in a dramatic first half that saw the Roosters kick a penalty and the Broncos’ Deine Mariner score to make it 8-4 heading into the break.

After an arm-wrestle of a first half, it felt like one of those matches where anything could prove to be the difference.

So in the shadow of halftime, Sydney halfback Sam Walker slotted a field goal to make it 9-4.

Or so he thought.

An immediate challenge sent the decision up to the Bunker as the Broncos protested the new blocker interpretation.

In recent seasons in particular, forwards have stood near the ruck but behind the hooker in order to provide what had been a legal block for the kicker — as long as they didn’t deviate specifically to interfere from their position.

Should this have been denied? Photo: Fox SportsSource: FOX SPORTS

While not a new rule per se, it is a much stricter interpretation and one which has raised eyebrows in its first use during the regular season.

While Lindsay Collins was standing behind the hooker, Victor Radley also ran across to join his teammate, making a two-player block.

Their former teammate, now Broncos, Fletcher Baker, instead of running behind the block, which would have impeded him anyway, ran in front of the blockers when making his futile attempt to block the kick.

The Bunker confirmed that it constituted “interference”.

“I don’t love it,” Michael Ennis said on Fox League. “It’s such a difficult thing to do, kick a field goal under pressure, I’m not sure … they’re standing their ground, they’re not in front of the play-the-ball, they’re on-side.

“It’s the new rule.”

On Channel 9, Billy Slater said the rule stated that you needed to be active and moving, ready to catch the ball.

Andrew Johns said it would bring wingers and fullbacks into the game.

The Broncos had a great touch-finder and then went for their own field goal but it was hardly worth mentioning.

However, the fans on social media were not liking what they saw.

Might not see much of this any more. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

SEN digital producer Dominic Criniti wrote: “The NRL had everything going in its favour, literally couldn’t have pictured a better outcome for them, then they decided to introduce that stupid field goal review rule to go ahead and ruin it.”

Another fan said: “Technically if the ball goes to the field goal kicker with room to move he’s going to be standing behind blokes who are standing their ground. Defenders will feign being blocked every f**king time. Field goals are dead. Rescind the rule V’Landys. Dumb.”

The rule had been brought in recently as the Bunker will also be the final word on every field goal and could delay the kick-off until a decision had been made.

When the rule was revealed, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said it was a drama that had snuck into the game over time.

“Players don’t have to be a certain number of metres behind the ruck,” Annesley said.

“But there is also a rule which talks about deliberately obstructing another player not in possession of the ball.

“If the players are forming that kind of blocking action … the referee … and the bunker can determine that is an obstruction and penalise for that.”


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