NRL Adds More Power to Video
Referees

The National Rugby League has extended the authority of its video officials and directed referees to clamp down on the grapple tackle ahead of the premiership kick-off in two weeks.

NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley on Tuesday said video referees would be given greater power to review foul play this season after allegations some players took "dives" last year.

A handful of coaches claimed that players stayed down so the video referee would have time to review incidents and award penalties.

In response to that, the NRL has now given video officials the ability to look at back at the entire set of six tackles rather than only the preceding play - as was the practice in 2003.

The referee will now wait until the end of the tackle count before asking the video referee to review any incident in the lead-up.

"We have extended the powers of the video referee a lot further than was envisaged," Annesley said.

"There is no doubt it's a delicate balance.

"But each time we ensure it's not a knee-jerk reaction. We have done everything we can to make sure the flow of the game is maintained."

The NRL is confident the new guidelines will stop players staying down in general play.

Annesley also revealed the NRL had taken action to stamp out the "grapple tackle" - in which players use leverage on the head and neck region of the opposition to slow down the play-the-ball.

The practice came to a head in last year's finals series when Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy accused his Canberra counterpart Matthew Elliott of complaining to the league about the Storm using the tactic.

The NRL subsequently instructed its referees to take action and took things one step further this year by incorporating it in the rules and warning players could be charged if the referee deemed it necessary.

"I don't expect it to arise as a matter of course," Annesley said of charges arising from grapple tackles.

"It depends on the severity of it.

"If a player had his head jerked backwards and it caused an injury or potential injury then obviously it's left open to the match review committee to take action on that."

Referees boss Robert Finch said: "To me if it's a continual problem ... you would then put it on report.

"It's up to the judiciary to look at whether it's worth a charge or not."

The NRL also outlined the guidelines behind its plan to put goalkickers on the clock.

Players will be given a maximum of 90 seconds to take a shot at goal following the referee blowing his whistle to award a try.

If players fail to adhere to that time limit, clubs will be issued a breach notice before fines, starting at $2,000, would be introduced.

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