By STEVE MASCORD
“THAT’s a REALLY good question,” says James Graham, late one Friday night after Canterbury match at Homebush.
“It’s a tough one. What have people been saying? Um, yeah, I don’t want to waste this. What about ‘no rules’? Huh! Just go out and play. Do whatever. No rules at all.
“Nah, I’ll thinking of something. Get back to me.”
Rule changes are the issue du jour in rugby league, with many people up in arms – no pun intended – about the recent shoulder charge ban.
Should any rule interpretations change mid-season? Should the players have a say? We asked a host of NRL and Super League stars what rules they hated, and what changes they would make if they could.
We never did get the British Bulldog’s answer. Ask hif if you see him around.
Please note that most of this survey was done before the shoulder charge blitz. Tell us which rule you’d change by Tweeting and including @Leagueweek and #myrulechange.
Now, over to the stars….
TERRY CAMPESE (Hull KR)
Campo reckons just touching the ball in a tackle does not make the defender guilty of being a dirty stripper.
“The strip,” he answered quickly when we put our query to him. “Some of them, you’re in contact where you’re trying to wrap it up and you touch it and they call it a strip. They’ve got to put more onus on the guy carrying the ball. “
This was an issue when David Shillington was recently sent off for a headbutt in his 200th game. He had dropped the ball. Rival Robbie Farah admitted he had a hand on it the tackle, arguing that Shillington is “a compulsive offloadeer” and should expect nothing less.
JARROD CROKER (Canberra)
Ball stealing and consistency
What gives “Toots” the poo-poos during a football game? “Most things give me the shits, mate. Ball stripping … I’ve seen them go to the scrum, looking at the big screen and blow a penalty. So, there’s a bit of inconsistency there. That’s only me saying that as well, because it cost us some momentum. I don’t watch a heap of footy. Just a bit of consistency all-round. There’s been a bit of talk of the captain’s challenge. I’ll admit I’m probably not a fan of that. It just slows the game down too much I reckon. The obstruction one still gets thrown around a lot. It’s not so much the rules, it’s consistency.” We hear you, brother.
DENE HALATAU (Wests Tigers)
The NRL were backed into a corner earlier this season by a spate of players staying on the ground, bringing in the video referee and giving their team-mates a spell. Now, the video referee can only intervene over a high tackle if the incident is likely to result in a judiciary charge. Diving has taken a dive but old hand Dene Halatau reckons it’s still an issue.
“Staying on the ground, yeah,” he says. “You don’t want it to turn into soccer, eh? You don’t like seeing someone get hit illegally but if they bounce back up you also feel like they’re doing something tough by getting up. They’re not trying to milk a penalty. But if someone is injured, you don’t want them to getup unnecessarily.”
ETHAN LOWE (North Queensland)
Number of referees
ONE referee was a big hit with NRL fans during the representative weekend this year – but that doesn’t mean it’s coming back. Some players, however, would like it to.
“I get a bit annoyed with the two referee thing. One is telling you to move, the other one is telling you you’ve got more time. That’s a bit frustrating. You don’t know who to listen to. But it’s up to people above me to make those sorts of decisions. “
It certainly is – and they’re sticking with two.
EORL CRABTREE (Huddersfield)
It’s pretty clear what ticks off Big Eorl during a rugby league game – refs in general.
“Interpretation is a weird word, isn’t it, in terms of it all being up the referee. Sometimes they make decisions that are unbelievable, mind-boggling. I don’t think those decisions are … it’s just a case of consistency. I don’t know how you can get (inconsistency) out of the game. It’s human nature. Humans make mistakes. It’s just the way it is.”
The play-the ball
Gaz Ellis is an old school rugby league man. His pet peeve is based on principles and etiquette.
“You know what really gripes me? People not playing the ball properly. That’s what defines our game, between rugby league and rugby union – the play-the-ball. So it’s a skill we should learn properly. I don’t mind if there’s an attempt but if it’s just thrown back, it gets on my nerves a little bit.”
MICHAEL LICHAA (Canterbury)
Oher players are less idealistic in the rules they would change. They want live to be made a little easier for them – and having to tackle for longer after kicking the ball dead is not, in any way, Michael Lichaa’s cup of tea.
“Seven tackles – it’s a killer – when the ball goes dead. Sometimes it just goes dead and they get seven. I think the people who made that rule up aren’t out there playing it because it’s already fast enough. When you’ve got the ball and you get the seven tackles, it’s nice. But … the rule’s gonna be there but it sucks when you’ve got to run back there and D up.”
JAKE MARKETO (St George Illawarra)
Play-the-ball and offside
And then there are the men who would use their magic wand to stop the refs penalising them. Just their team, do what you like to the rest….
“The play-the-ball is the most annoying. People do that every game., If you pinged on one of those things, it’s a bit rare. I mean, I hate when we get penalised for off-side, late in in a set. You’ve busted your backside for four or five tackles and then that happens coming out of yardage. That’s hard to cop. You can’t change that one. You’ve just got to play by the rules I suppose.”
JASON NIGHTINGALE (St George Illawarra)
Likewise, the Dragons winger wants a captain’s challenge – but only
when he is captain.
“When I’m captain, I’d like a captain’s challenge. When I see the 20s do it, I get jealous. I always thing I’m right! I would have got Dylan Farrell a try when we played the Roosters. I’d put in a captain’s challenge … just for selfish reasons. It’s me thinking I know everything and wanting to try and change the ref’s decision. I try and argue but I don’t have power in that area yet.”
Filed for RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK