Roosters players miffed by obstructions, want clarity

Scott Bailey |

The Roosters’ Joey Manu scored a try against Penrith, later ruled a no-try because of obstruction.
The Roosters’ Joey Manu scored a try against Penrith, later ruled a no-try because of obstruction.

Sydney Roosters halfback Sam Walker has urged the NRL to address the obstruction rule, saying inconsistencies are leaving players and fans frustrated.

The Roosters were last weekend the victims of the most controversial obstruction decision, when Joey Manu was denied a try by the bunker against Penrith.

The NRL later admitted fault, with head of football Graham Annesley conceding Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards would never have reached Manu to deny the try.

But Walker is adamant that was not the only decision to leave him miffed, claiming there had been up to five in the opening four rounds he was left confused by.

Sam Walker
Sydney Roosters halfback Sam Walker wants the NRL to address the obstruction rule. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“I’ve seen five this year that they’ve called the weirdest obstructions,” he said.

“But then other times they’ll be ‘oh, he might have got there’ or ‘he might not have got there; we don’t think he’s going to get there’.

“There’s not a great deal of consistency with it all. I know as a player that it’s frustrating. 

“But for fans … to sit there with fingers crossed not knowing what’s going to happen, that would be quite frustrating.

“The sooner we come to a decision about it all and get it out of the way (will be great) because no one wants to be talking about obstruction rules.”

Officials at the NRL are adamant there is no need for confusion around the rule, and that the laws and interpretations on lead runners have not changed for this season.

Several high-profile calls have revolved around decoy runners stopping in the defensive line, with Manly’s no-try against Parramatta in round three the most obvious example.

But the NRL insists that rule has been the case for nearly a decade, and that the indicators for determining obstructions are still the same.

Head office is also confident the right level of discretion is available to referees in determining if obstructed defenders would have been involved in the play. 

It comes after Ivan Cleary, himself a former referees consultant, and Wayne Bennett this weekend both warned against rules becoming too black-and-white on the matter.

Roosters hooker Brandon Smith on Monday also backed the NRL’s decision to come out and admit fault over the weekend, saying it did not leave a sour taste in his mouth.

“I guess it’d be frustrating for a few people, but I feel like it’s good ownership from the NRL to come out and say ‘we stuffed up’,” Smith said. 

“If they’re acknowledging that they’re making mistakes – and as long as we can learn from them – then it’s sweet.

“(It seems like) they’re trying to eliminate black-and-white in the competition with their rulings, and that was one of them. 

“I thought it was a pretty sketchy one. I didn’t know the obstruction was on Jared (Waerea-Hargreaves) until the end of the game, so that was pretty weird.”