Edwards still unclear amid NRL’s obstruction debate

Jasper Bruce |

Panthers No.1 Dylan Edwards is one of many NRL stars not sure about the obstruction rule.
Panthers No.1 Dylan Edwards is one of many NRL stars not sure about the obstruction rule.

Dylan Edwards, the player at the centre of the most controversial refereeing decision this NRL season, admits he is still unclear about the way obstruction is being officiated.

The Sydney Roosters had a potentially game-winning try rescinded in last week’s 22-16 loss to Penrith after decoy runner Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was ruled to have obstructed Edwards.

But the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley later suggested the try should have been awarded, believing even if Waerea-Hargreaves had not collided with Edwards, the fullback would not have had time to reach would-be tryscorer Joey Manu.

The incident has sparked debate in the ensuing days, largely due to the element of referee discretion that factors into the obstruction rule.

While the NRL has strict indicators in place to help codify obstruction, referees can still apply their own judgement in determining the significance of any prior contact on a try-scoring situation.

Annesley said on Tuesday that allowing match officials to make their own interpretations helped safeguard against defenders playing for penalties by taking dives.

But Edwards said leaving the obstruction rule open to the match officials’ discretion could cause confusion for players.

Joey Manu.
Joey Manu plants the ball down, but his spectacular try was later disallowed. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

“It gets interpreted so many different ways. I’d say at the moment, no (it’s not clear enough),” he said.

“I’m not sure what’s an obstruction and what’s not an obstruction, depending on the situation.”

Famously hard-working Edwards also did not believe it was cut-and-dry that he was too far from Manu to have made a tackle if given the chance.

“I hope I would’ve made it,” he said.

“I’m not doing my job if I didn’t make it but we’ll never know because of what happened. Personally, I’d like to think I would’ve made it.”

Edwards said he had moved on from the refereeing debate as Penrith turned their focus  Saturday night’s clash against Manly.

“You’ve got to cop it sweet, whatever decision is made, you’ve got to cop it sweet. You’ve got to get on with it,” he added.

“It’s hard to have black-and-white rules in rugby league, in saying that. So maybe it’s just an interpretation of things.”