2022-07-24 23:50:00

Cameron Smith has warned the NRL it is “going the way” of rugby union as the fallout from the Cowboys’ controversial win over the Tigers on Sunday continues.

North Queensland snatched a 27-26 victory after Ken Maumalo was ruled to have obstructed Kyle Feldt in the final seconds, gifting Valentine Holmes a game-winning penalty goal.

Greg Alexander branded that decision “garbage” in commentary for Fox League while the fact the Cowboys were even able to get in a captain’s challenge also came under scrutiny.

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Both decisions continued to come under the spotlight on Monday, with the Tigers considering all possibilities, including taking legal action in an attempt to overturn the result.

“It was awful,” Smith said on SEN 1170.

“I was sitting there in my lounge room watching that game and I could not believe what had happened, could not believe it. I know Todd Payten spoke afterwards about [how] we copped one against us last week and we got one this week.

“It still doesn’t change the fact that it was an absolute shocker. I couldn’t believe that you could challenge on that play. I actually thought it had to be a stoppage of play. I thought that was in the NRL rulebook, that the captain can only a referee’s decision when the play is stopped.”


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Andrew Voss brought up the point that restart infringements are listed as one reason players can challenge a call made by the referee, although no decision was made in the first place.

The NRL was quick to defend the officials on Sunday night, telling media that while the referee had blown his whistle to stop the game, he had not yet called fulltime.

A spokesperson also added that the call of stopping play for the end of the match was able to be challenged by the Cowboys if they felt there was foul play.

The confusion prompted Smith and fellow rugby league great Matthew Johns to take the conversation one step further, trying to diagnose how we got to this point in the first place.


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The Tigers fell short in dramatic fashion. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Both agreed it all started with the constant chopping and changing of rules.

“I think there’s so many rules,” Smith said.

“We’ve seen referees confused this season on when people can challenge, what they can challenge and when they can’t challenge. It’s because we’ve seen the introduction of so many new rules over the past two seasons.

“Players and coaches and referees, I think they’re still trying to catch up.”

“I see the same thing,” Johns replied in agreement.

“I think after all the rule changes, there are not many more complex games or complex sports to adjudicate than rugby league. It’s so much going, the speed of the game, the tinkering of the rules and the fact our officials are under fatigue themselves.”

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Alexander said it has left referees with a rule book that is “thicker than it used to be” and “completely different to what kids play”, although he added that still “there is one sport more confusing than rugby league, that is rugby union.”

But Smith believes if the NRL is not careful, it could find itself trending in that direction too.

“That’s the concerning thing,” he said.

“We sit here as leaguies watching rugby and go: ‘What was that for? What was that ruling for? Why was that a penalty?’. I will tell you, our sport is going that way now.

“That is the concerning thing for me. There is so much nitpicking.”

“That is so true,” Johns added.

James Tamou of the Tigers speaks with the referee. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“When my boys play union, a guy explained it to me, he said: ‘In rugby union, the really important things that take place are the things you can’t see like in the ruck and the mauling’, what they call dark arts.

“Why I suggest rugby league has drifted in that direction is because of what we spoke about in the Origin series, what went wrong in Game 1 [is] we lost the ruck area. That’s just an example of what we’re talking about.”

It is far from the only issue the game has to contend with in the wake of Sunday’s game.

Smith also suggested that Feldt’s success in drawing a penalty could encourage other players to take a dive and stop “competing” for the ball.

“I’ll tell you the other thing that this promotes is now that players have seen you can get away with it [diving],” Smith said.

“Let’s not assume he [Feldt] just took a dive but that is what this promotes. Players just fall. What they do is stop competing. Instead of worrying about competing for the football, they take the easy option and just run into an opposition player, fall on the ground and say I’ll just get a penalty.”


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Smith even singled out former teammate Jahrome Hughes, who was accused of diving in Melbourne’s 32-20 win over Brisbane last month.

“I don’t think he received a penalty, he was defending and he sort of got nudged barely by an attacking player and fell over,” Smith said.

“The opposition scored a try and he was complaining about being obstructed but it was play on. We’re seeing it throughout the entire competition now. Players are not competing. If they feel like they’re touched they fall over.”

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Source by [graycupnews.com]


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