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4 days ago
Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler will roll the dice and challenge the consistency of NRL referees by instructing the continued use of his controversial second-man decoy play.
Fittler was left scratching his head when Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall was denied a try in the first half of last week's loss to Brisbane, the decision costing the home side a potentially match-winning 20-8 lead.
The Roosters were penalised for an obstruction, Broncos centre Justin Hodges ruled to have been impeded when Kenny-Dowall ran behind decoy runner Seitamata Sa.
But the decision hasn't scared off Fittler, who will again call on his players to run the same play against premiers Melbourne at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
"Let's hope so, let's hope they score another try off it," Fittler said.
"If ... it's there to be taken I hope they take it.
"Hopefully we might get that 50-50 call next time."
What angered Fittler the most was that the second man decoy play was the same as the set piece which resulted in Anthony Tupou scoring against South Sydney in the opening round.
The Roosters were lauded for their creativity and sleight of hand on that occasion, Fittler claiming differences in interpretations from referees were leading to inconsistent rulings.
"The disappointing thing was that there was a lot of tries scored off a similar sort of play that weren't looked at or reacted to by referees," Fittler said.
"You can't stop those plays, you've got to get advantages some way and trying to send decoy runners through, that's one of the only ways these days that you can gain an advantage in one on one tackles.
"We can't have grey areas there, we've got to start having some black and white areas so we know what we can do."
Fittler said he had spoke to referees boss Robert Finch following both of his side's matches, with the decoy play a topic of conversation on both occasions.
Finch said he was happy with the interpretations made in both instances, warning Fittler he would again risk being stripped of a four-pointer.
"The bottom line is the sweep runner needs to be deeper if he's going to receive the football inside that block runner, or he needs to receive the football on the outside of the block runner - one of the two," Finch said.
"The line he's running now is the same line as the ball-carrier would run ... it's too shallow."
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy would have surely spent plenty of time studying the tactic in the lead-up to Saturday's game.
It is a sure bet there'll be plenty of obstruction pleas to the referee Shayne Hayne from the Storm should the Roosters again go over in similar circumstances.
Fittler said he hadn't tweaked the play at training this week, and called on the NRL not to discourage players from utilising their skills.
"What we've got to understand is that when you've got players like Antony Tupou, Darren Lockyer, players that can go right to the line, it's a courageous play they're putting their body on the line every time," Fittler said.
"I just applaud them for doing it and I encourage them to keep doing it."