‘Dramatic’ impact of new NRL rule irks legend

Six-again calls on ruck infringements must be “looked at and modified” in a push to stop teams exploiting the rule to gain an advantage, rugby league legend Peter Sterling says.

Sterling’s comments follow a Twitter post of rugby league icon Phil Gould, who reiterated after the Panthers’ 8-6 semi-final win over the Eels that the six-again rule was not responsible for the lopsided scorelines that had marred the 2021 season.

Gould, who specialises in pathways and development and is currently utilising his expertise as the Bulldogs’ general manager of football, instead pointed to an uneven distribution of top-end talent throughout the league.

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While Sterling agrees with Gould, he highlighted an incident in the Panthers-Eels semi-final that showed six-again calls must be addressed.

Despite the fact NRL head of football Graham Annesley said in May that teams would be hit with a penalty or even a sin-bin for repeat offences, referees have failed to enforce that stance.

“Parramatta had defended, defended, defended three sets, I think Clint Gutherson brings the football back and got in the position for a quick play-the-ball and then there was a deliberate, a cynical penalty given away,” Sterling said on Wide World of Sports’ Sterlo’s Wrap.

“That should be a penalty.

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“The extra tackle didn’t really help them, because what it did was Penrith got back to defend and the brick wall was back in place, whereas (with) a quick play-the-ball they would have been kicking the ball from over halfway into an attacking position.

“We keep saying that what you do in tackles one, two and three determines what four, five and six look like.

“So, yes, I can see where Gus is coming from, but I still think the six-again has had such a dramatic impact that there are times where a penalty is a much more fair decision for the team that gets the six-again.”

The six-again rule was introduced for ruck infringements this season in an attempt to speed up play, as an alternative to stopping for a penalty.

“I still think it needs to be looked at and modified,” Sterling said.

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