By STEVE MASCORD
FORMER Melbourne Storm hard man Jeff Lima has made the bizarre claim that he has never been coached to wrestle or execute controversial manoeuvres like the grapple tackle and chicken wing.
Lima, who played in grand final-winning Storm teams in 2007 and 2009 and will face up to his former club for South Sydney this Saturday, made the assertion despite every NRL club currently employing a wrestling coach.
“We are never coached to do that stuff,” Lima says in Wednesday’s edition of Rugby League Week.
“It’s just awkward on the field, to be honest. Just trying to get someone on his back is hard. You always end up on the wrong side of it.
“We don’t work on those things, we don’t teach those things, in our training.”
Lima’s own tendency towards using such holds resulted in him copping a two-match ban – ruling him out of the World Club Challenge – in his very first Super League game for Wigan in 2011.
He was also fined Stg300 and given a warning letter from the Rugby Football League. In 2008, Storm forward Brett O’Farrell said players were drilled “over and over” in grapple tackles.
Pressed on his seemingly incongruous statement, the 30-year-old New Zealand international said: “We just get taught to tackle around the legs. That’s all I want to say.”
As both undefeated teams named their line-ups for the ANZ Stadium clash on Saturday, NRL referees boss Daniel Anderson has cleared the world champions of suggestions their senior players influence referees with their comments during matches.
Wests Tigers coach Michael Potter strongly hinted at the practice after his side’s 26-12 loss at AAMI Park in Monday Night Football.
“Every single team attempts to influence referees in their own ways,” said Anderson. “Some talk louder than others or use a different manner and it’s usually the more experienced players who do it.
“But I don’t think it influences decision-making on the field. What effects the decision-making of match officials is the actions and behaviours of the players in relation to the rules and interpretations of the game.
“I don’ think there is any influence.”
Storm second rower Ryan Hoffman admitted he spoke to referee Adam Gee shortly before the decision was taken to disallow a try to Wests Tigers’ Eddy Pettybourne in the 46th minute on Monday.
“You can’t come in and start pushing defensive players out of the way,” said Hoffman. “I was quite close to that … I went straight to the referee and asked him politely to check it.
“(I said) ‘I think there’s a driver in there’. He checked it. I think it was the right decision.
“I’m sure he was going to check it. I just wanted to politely make sure that he was going to check it.”
The Storm have received a blow with New Zealand Test winger Matt Duffie – dropped for the Wests Tigers game – ruled out until round 13 with a shoulder injury suffered in the NSW Cup.
“If we do the surgery now, we’ll lose him for the year,” said trainer Tony Ayoub. “So we’ll rehab him and make a decision.”
Anderson also found against Storm coach Craig Bellamy’s claim that Wests Tigers got away with too many delaying tactics on Monday. “They were penalised 14 times, which has to be close to the most of any team this year,” said Anderson.
“I don’t think you could say there was lenience there.”
Bellamy named a seven man bench last night, adding Lagi Setu, Slade Griffin and Brett Finch to the MNF side.
Although Souths coach, and former Storm assistant, Michael Maguire picked an un-named side, he has shown a willingness in recent weeks to change a winning side.
The likes of Jason Clark and Dylan Walker performed strongly in NSW Cup on Sunday and could press for inclusion.
Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson said a crowd of around 20,000 was anticipated.
Teams for the match, which kicks off at AAMI Park at 7.35pm Saturday, are:
SOUTHS: Greg Inglis; Nathan Merrit, Dylan Farrell, Bryson Goodwin, Andrew Everingham; John Sutton, Adam Reynolds; Sam Burgess, Ben Teo, Chris McQueen, Roy Asotasi, Issac Luke, David Tyrell. Res: Nathan Peats, Jeff Lima, Ben Lowe, George Burgess, Michael Crocker, Justin Hunt, Jason Clark (three to be omitted).
MELBOURNE: Billy Slater; Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Junior Sau, Mahe Fonua; Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk; Ryan Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hoffman, Tohu Harris, Bryan Norrie, Cameron Smith (c), Jesse Bromwich. Res: Jason Ryles, Lagi Setu, Siosaia vave, Kevin Proctor, Kenny Bromwich, Brett Finch, Slade Griffin (three to be omitted).
Referees: Shayne Hayne/Alan Shortall.
Filed for: THE AGE