Magic Round, Crackdown, Graham Annesley, Football Briefing

Due to the crackdown applied in last year’s Magic Round, NRL is “in a much better place” in terms of safety and interpretation of foul play, said Graham Anasley.

One year after the controversial 2021 Magic Round, which saw 14 scene-beans and three send-offs, the NRL’s football chief on Monday praised the impact of the crackdown.

Zero send-off and only six scene-bins were imposed during this year’s Magic Round, but Annesley rejected the notion that the NRL had softened its position.

He pointed to the health of the game instead.

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“We reached a tipping point just before the Magic Round (last year). It was definitely not planned for the Magic Round, but we did get to a tipping point where we had to take some action against some of the high tackles we were watching in the game,” Annesley said.

“I think what we’ve seen in the last 12 months has been a period of player coordination. We’ve also seen adjustment periods for referees and match review committees.

“I think we’re in a much better place right now. We’re highlighting events that need to be sorted out, we’re not seeing additional responses to events that () are just accidental or incidental and I think we’re in a much better place consistently throughout the game.

“Now, it goes without saying that we still don’t have some outsiders where there will be some judgments that will be questioned by the match review committee or the bunkers or the referees, but I think it was a combination. The game had to go through.”

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In most cases, Defenders learned to catch a kicker or even crash, rather than follow “a full-blooded tackle,” Annesley noted.

One of the main goals of the NRL crackdown was to provide greater security for small and cunning players – such as Adam Reynolds, Luke Kerry and Jahrom Hughes – not only because of their size but also because they are often airborne when kicking.

“(Crackdown) probably would have been better if it had been done differently at the time, but we’re seeing the benefits now,” said Anasley, adding that it turned into a marquee round of competition last season.

“I know that everyone in the (ARL) Commission and in the management of the NRL has a very strong view that we must continue on the pressure, the downward pressure, the reckless, reckless tackle … Excluding the opportunity to approach the tackle.

“I think we’re on a better trajectory this year than last year and I think the steps that were taken in the second half of last year are (a) a much better position to play and a much safer environment. For the players.”

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