The Roar
The Roar



Comical Annesley: Waste 40 minutes of your rugby league life and tune in to painful weekly briefings

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23rd May, 2024
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In a desperate attempt to insinuate that there is consistency and transparency in rugby league, a few seasons back the NRL decided to let head of football Graham Annesley loose at a weekly Monday briefing, in an attempt to deal with the issues arising from the previous round.

If you have not had the pleasure, I encourage to do so, it is freely available on the NRL official website.

Yet should you choose to spend a valuable part of your day with Mr Annesley, it will most likely be the only time you do decide to interact with what is the most tedious, choreographed and pointless exercise I have ever seen undertaken in the game.

I am not exactly sure what the NRL Commission hopes to achieve from the weekly parading of an under-pressure Annesley to a rather unenthusiastic room of reporters and the tragic fans who tune in.

Yet it has been around for quite a few seasons, with the man in the crosshairs appearing to achieve little more than ageing ever briskly.

For the most part, Annesley has spent his time justifying poor Bunker decisions and attempting to deflect the correct accusations that there is horrible inconsistency between referees.

By my count, he has managed to effectively refute such a public view a total of zero times.


The latest edition of his weekly time in the spotlight bordered on embarrassing.

Graham Annesley speaks during the 2019 Origin launch

Graham Annesley. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Hot off the heels of Magic Round, and rather than delving into some of the more pressing issues and curious moments of officialdom that had many an eyebrow raised across what was a huge weekend, Annesley began with five minutes of spin that was quite juvenile and pointless.

He relayed the success of the Women’s State of Origin clash, citing it as the most watched NRL or AFL game thus far in 2024, before making us aware that the latest Magic Round had been the most watched since its inception.

Fair enough I guess, yet with sin bins, hip-drops and penalty tries more on the minds of people interested in how their team fared over the weekend, Annesley then put the big stuff to the side and instead conveyed that there were 10,000 hamburgers consumed across the eight matches, 30 ball kids involved and a tonne, yes you heard it, a tonne of seafood consumed.

Wow, talk about the big issues.

There was even more drivel than the three examples listed above and one can only imagine the chasm between the thinking behind the original implementation of the weekly briefing and the PR opportunity it now appears to have become, at the expense of deeper analysis of the issues that people actually care about.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii of the Sydney Roosters during the round five NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Parramatta Eels at Allianz Stadium on March 30, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Joseph Sua’ali’i was one of a handful of players sin-binned during Magic Round. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

When Annesley finally moved on, stating, “Then if we move more into the football side of it”, the NRL statisticians had him well armed.

The former Titans CEO spent a few moments desperately attempting to convince us all that the average 8.6 margin of defeat across Magic Round, the lowest ever recorded, was a sign of the strength of the competition, in conjunction with the frequency that the lead changed hands, using additional graphs to support his thesis.

Sadly, his commentary around sin-bins was less compelling.

Taniela Paseka, Joseph Suaalii and Isaah Yeo spent time on the pine for their respective teams. Annesley seems chuffed that the referees had applied the rules effectively, with all three well offside and retreating in defence before making an illegal tackle.

However, when the case of Brisbane’s Josiah Karapani was considered, a player who had done precisely what the three above had, Annesley seemed somehow content that he escaped sanction.

“Generally, the player will end up in the sin bin”, he said.


I’m not sure we want “generally” Graham, I think we want it each and every single time.

In a match where the Broncos prevailed by a point, a simple argument could be made that a sin bin for Karapani could well have been the determining factor.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Viliame Kikau of the Bulldogs is tackled by the Titans defence during the round three NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Gold Coast Titans at Belmore Sports Ground, on March 23, 2024, in Sydney, Australia.

Viliame Kikau escaped a hip-drop charge during Magic Round. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Annesley’s explanation of the hip-drop charge against Josh Papalii, as compared to Viliame Kikau’s tackle last Friday night against the Raiders was equally unconvincing. Apparently, it is “where the bulk of the bodyweight falls” that now determines guilt or innocence.

Frankly, like many, I am no longer sure I really understand what a hip-drop tackle is, after thinking I had a handle on it last season.

When Annesley said, “I’m not gonna dwell on that”, as he completed his analysis of the two incidents, plenty an NRL fan understood why.

There was even more cloudiness around the Brian Kelly no-try from the Titans and Knights clash, where Kelly was relieved of the ball by defenders as he attempted to reach out to score and subsequently planted down the football, claiming a try.


“I understand the emotion”, claimed Annesley, as he purported to do around the penalty try awarded to Newcastle as a player chased a grubber klick into the in-goal area.

Openly stating, “We’ll never know”, when asked if the player would have reached the ball in time, Annesley essentially voided the awarding of the penalty try, citing instead the bizarre NRL interpretation that merely removing the opportunity of the chaser to reach the ball constitutes such a decision, whilst at the same time admitting the player may not have reclaimed the ball in time to score.

There was plenty more, yet NRL fans are better off not having seen the Round 11 briefing. It was as equally as meaningless as those that have come before it.

Time to end the charade and just admit that correct weight should rarely be called on NRL games. We the fans are confused and the fact that Graham Annesley is as well, pretty much sums up the state of affairs.