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NRL News: Field goal rules changed, Sticky fires up over 'inconsistency' in All Stars ban, Wigan prop out of Panthers duel

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19th February, 2024
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The NRL has given the bunker the power to step in and rule on any field goal this season, with a stricter position to be taken on kick blockers.

AAP has been told that field-goal attempts will be treated in the same way as tries in 2024, with every shot to be reviewed by the bunker before play restarts.

It means that when an on-field referee awards a field goal, the bunker will automatically begin reviewing the play and have the power to overturn the call.

Included in the bunker’s remit will be to see if the ball went between the posts, if the kick was taken from outside the 40-metre line, and if defenders were obstructed.

If a field-goal attempt misses but the ball goes dead, the bunker will also be able to check for foul play and if the markers were square when pressuring the kicker.

If bunker officials find any potential illegal play, they will tell on-field referees to delay the restart until a formal decision is made.

There is no option to check if the defensive line were offside, or if they left early.

It is the potential to rule on kick blockers that could have the most significant impact on games and lead to multiple field goals being denied.

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The NRL has warned it will place a particular emphasis on attackers loitering around the ruck who act to block defenders from putting pressure on kickers.

In a video compiled last week by the NRL, head of football Graham Annesley pointed to multiple examples of field goals that would be denied in 2024.

Included in those were when attackers stood next to or near the play-the-ball, forcing defenders  to run around them to get to the kicker.

“This is something that has got progressively worse over time, and one where we need to enforce the existing rule,” Annesley said in the video.

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

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

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“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.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/b5YiA1–9W0?si=PVysby12GlFQgc0R

Annesley said penalties would only be called if kick blockers had got in the way of chasers.

On-field referees will also be able to send field-goal reviews upstairs, before they make any decision.

Amid other considerations for 2024, the bunker will still have no power to rule on forward passes.

There were calls last year for video officials to be able to review passes, but an off-season review determined it remained too difficult.

Meanwhile, the NRL has also confirmed a penalty will still be awarded for kick-offs that go out on the full behind the dead-ball line.

New rules brought in for this season for play-the-balls for incorrect restarts will only be applied for kicks that were intended to be contested by both teams.

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And the league has received good news on the bunker for the Las Vegas season opener, with technical checks clearing the one in Sydney to be used for the March 2 double-header.

Stuart fires up over All Stars ban

Ricky Stuart has fired up at the NRL judiciary over their decision to wipe Seb Kris out of the All Stars clash at the weekend.

Kris was suspended following his send off against Cronulla late last year and had been allowed to count potential Kiwi appearances against his ban, but was not allowed to do the same for the All Stars, where he could have represented the Indigenous team.

Jacob Gagai, the Souths reserve grader, had been suspended in the NSW Cup last year but was allowed to use the game – though neither he nor Kris had played it in before – as part of his ban, and is now a chance to debut in Vegas.

Kris misses both the All Stars match and Round 1 for the Raiders as a result of the ruling.

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“I just hope I can get a proper justification on the inconsistency and not some feeble response,” the coach told the Daily Telegraph.

“I have a proud Torres Strait Island boy wanting to know why the All Stars game is not deemed important enough to serve part of his suspension as it has for other individuals,” Stuart said.

“He has missed a semi-final and three international games for his country and All Stars game, which he was desperately keen to play in.

“We will go through the right channels on Monday with the NRL to ask where the consistency is.”

Thompson out of Penrith clash

Prop Luke Thompson will miss the World Club Challenge against Penrith after suffering a concussion in Wigan’s first game of the Super League season.

Wigan’s 32-4 defeat of Castleford on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) was Lancashire-born Thompson’s first regular-season match since returning home from an injury-plagued four years with Canterbury in the NRL.

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The prop failed a head injury assessment after coming off in the opening 20 minutes and will be unavailable for February 24’s annual match between the NRL and Super League premiers.

“It’s a blow,” Wigan coach Matt Peet said in his post-match press conference.

“The way he started the game and in pre-season, he was looking excellent. 

“But his health has to come first. He’s taken a whack on the head.

“It’s the right thing for the player (to miss the game).”

Ex-NRL prop Kaide Ellis and halfback Harry Smith are also in doubt after being penalised for a high tackle and dangerous throw respectively against Castleford.

The pair are set to learn their fate from the match review panel on Monday local time.

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Thompson’s concussion comes as the Warriors hatch plans to neutralise the NRL’s best middle forward rotation at their DW Stadium, which kicks off at 7am on Sunday AEDT.

The prop forward played the Panthers three times across his 42 appearances for the Bulldogs.

Three-time reigning premiers Penrith arrived in England last week and are preparing to chase the only major trophy that has eluded them.

After COVID-19 complications led the 2022 edition to be cancelled, the Panthers lost last year’s World Club Challenge against St Helens. 

Neither the 1991 nor 2003 premiership sides won the clash with their English counterparts. 

With AAP

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