Players milking penalties off the back of the NRL’s crackdown on high shots has been called into question after Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie was caught red-handed in his side’s win over the Panthers on Friday.
A penalty try to Tigers forward Luciano Leilua — due to arguably an unavoidable high shot — only added fuel to the fire.
Laurie copped the hand of Robert Jennings to the face as he fell down in a tackle in the first half. He tried to get the ref’s attention before laying flat on the ground attempting to appear concussed.
But as soon as referee Grant Atkins blew a penalty, Laurie bounced back to his feet donning a big grin.
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Fox League analyst Corey Parker highlighted the fact that there were fears that the NRL’s crackdown on high shots could see player’s milking penalties when copping even the slightest bump to the head.
“We see there some gamesmanship if you like from Laurie. He laid down, got the penalty, straight back to his feet, smile on his face,” Corey Parker said.
“Now that’s the issue, that’s the issue a lot of people are having with what’s going on.”
Balmain Tigers great Steve Roach took a big exception to Laurie’s act.
“I’ve got an issue with it, especially from my team,” he said.
“The Wests Tigers laying down like that… this ain’t soccer.
“You’ve got to get to your feet. He won the penalty but people won’t appreciate that.”
Two minutes later, Laurie crossed for the first try of the night.
And it's Daine Laurie who opens up the scoring! #NRLTigersPanthers
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The Tigers later benefited off the referee’s harsher stance on high shots this season when Leilua was awarded a penalty try in the 64th minute.
Ironically, it was Jennings’ hand that was at the centre of the incident once again. Jennings’ arm collected Leilua’s head as he dived over the line, forcing the Tigers forward to knock on.
Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane questioned whether it would be a penalty try, however Parker didn’t want to entertain that idea, saying: “No Dan, don’t go there.”
But the bunker did go there.
“That’s going to fill a lot of air space and a lot of newspaper space as well over the next couple of days that decision,” Ginnane said after the penalty try was awarded.
Roach believes there was no intent from Jennings to hit Leilua high.
“I think he was trying to punch the ball out. He’s dropped about two metres to put the ball down. It’s accidental… what’s (Jennings) supposed to do? He’s trying to stop a try,” he said.
Roach threw to Parker, asking him if Panthers coach Ivan Cleary could even be disappointed in Jennings.
“You can’t blow up at him,” he said.
“Every player played their part there… we can stand around and talk about this all day. I’m not sure we’re going to find a resolution,” he responded.
“We’ve seen a couple of incidences — and I’m not saying this (Leilua) one — where players have been hit high.
“Daine Laurie comes to mind. He lays down, gets a penalty, gets straight back up to his feet with a smile on his face.
“So the players are aware of it, there’s no two ways about that. Yes, there was contact to Luciano Leilua’s head. He puts his head down, he gets a penalty try. They’re aware of it. Players will do anything to win games.”
“I’m not saying it’s the wrong call but…”
Ginnane interjected with: “It’s a heavy price to pay. It’s an enormous price to pay.”
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Michael Ennis couldn’t ignore the milking incidents.
“Any time there was contact around the head area, players stayed down and they got the rewards tonight,” he said after the game.
Meanwhile, Braith Anasta pointed out that Laurie wouldn’t have stayed down if it wasn’t for the crackdown.
“He doesn’t lay down in round one, because he doesn’t think he’s going to get a penalty,” he said.
Sharks skipper Wade Graham asked Ennis what can be done about it but admitted he doesn’t hold it against players for doing what they have to do to benefit their team.
“What do we do, Micky? Because the genie is out of the bottle now,” he said.
“I can’t begrudge any player playing for a penalty or playing for the win in a game, because when you cross that line and you’re on the field, you’re doing anything to win for your team.”
Ennis thinks it needs the call needs to come from above, letting referees know it’s OK to use common sense.
“It’s going to take the game as a whole and the powers to be to give an edict to the referees to say, ‘No, tell him to get up, there’s nothing in that.’
“The one with Daine Laurie tonight. He got a minor slap on the chin, he knew that he copped a knock on the chin, so he buried his face in the ground, and the minute he heard the whistle he got up laughing.”
James Graham put to the panel the idea of a player that gets the penalty has to leave the field for a HIA.
“Is the solution if you stay down, you have to be removed from the field of play?”
The Fox League team wasn’t alone in calling out Laurie. NRL fans were quick to pick up on the talented fullback’s cheeky act too.
Daine Laurie deserves an Oscar nomination for tonight #NRLTigersPanthers
Daine Laurie should audition for Home and Away #NRLTigersPanthers
Daine Laurie has deadset died 5 times so far this match. But miraculously recovered each time miliseconds after gaining a penalty #NRLTigersPanthers#nrl
It's amazing Daine Laurie is still on the field after being knocked out twice#NRL
Originally published as‘This ain’t soccer’: NRL legends fume
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