Andrew Johns says referees are the solution to save the NRL as the game flirts with a crackdown over the scourge of wrestling.
NRL supremo Peter V’landys said this week the league is considering a competition-wide crackdown on wrestling tactics that have crept back into the game — slowing down the general speed of play.
Rugby league commentators have been divided on whether a crackdown is needed to improve the quality of the game this year.
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However, Johns on Thursday weighed in on the debate with a massive truth bomb.
The rugby league immortal said on nine.com.au’s Freddy and the Eighth web series the solution to stopping the go-slow tackles is to return to two referees.
“The third person is the one we have to look at and eradicate from the game – it’s when the two players go in and they call it ‘catch’,” he said.
“They hold the attacker up, and they hold him up, wrap the ball up. The third person comes in and squeezes the legs, and then they ease them down.
“It ends up about a six or seven-second play-the-ball. The defensive line is set.
“I think we need to stop this third player going in at the legs, whether you call them cannonballs or hip-drops… I’ve noticed it. I’ve noticed it affects the attack of most teams.”
He also wrote in a newspaper column for the Sydney Morning Herald “I hate it” when addressing the three-man tackles.
V’landys earlier sent a warning to coaches of a possible increase in six-again calls as a way of addressing the wrestling tactics, according to smh.com.au.
Meanwhile, former Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater is also not a fan of any wholesale changes to the policing of wrestling infringements.
“The wrestle has always been in the game,” Slater said on 2GB’s ‘Wide World of Sports’ radio.
“I don’t know what game we’ve been watching if we think teams aren’t supposed to slow the ruck down. That’s their job. Defensive teams want to play slow, attacking teams want to play fast. That’s been happening ever since I’ve watched rugby league.
“If you’re going to do it, then do it. Don’t worry about saying it. Just police it. I think it’s been good. I don’t even know what we’re talking about. We’re looking at data and stats. The product is good, just leave it.”