NSW captain James Tedesco has called on players not to let the latest NRL scourge of playing for penalties infiltrate State of Origin on Wednesday night.
An ugly side effect of the NRL’s crackdown on high contact has seen a rise in players appealing for penalties but Tedesco doesn’t want it anywhere near the Origin arena.
Over the weekend several NRL players were called out for laying down or feigning injury after contact was made with their head, with 21 penalties blown in the Wests Tigers’ victory over Penrith – the most since the crackdown.
Personal views of the practice range anywhere from sportsmanship to cheating but the Blues skipper and coach Brad Fittler are on the latter end of the spectrum.
Asked if he would be disappointed to see it creep into the toughest three games of rugby league all season, Tedesco was adamant.
“Definitely, it’s a mutual respect thing with players,” he told AAP.
“You know as players if they’re hurt or they’re laying down.
“If you want to play in the spirit of the game, that’s all we can ask for really.”
Just three weeks ago Tedesco believes he saw it up close when Sydney Roosters teammate Victor Radley was sin-binned for a high shot on Brisbane forward Tevita Pangai Junior.
“If they get hit in the head and they’re hurt then that’s fair enough, but if you’re laying down and waiting for a penalty I don’t condone that,” he said.
“A lot of us are watching games or even when we’re playing games you see people laying down.
“That’s sort of what happened with Rads, Pangai did that a few times and got the penalty for it.
“If you genuinely get hit in the head and you get concussed or injured then there’s no issues there, but if you’re playing for a penalty, that’s not really in the spirit of the game.”
Having been on the end of his fair share of high contact, Tedesco knows the difference between being hurt and appealing for a penalty.
Three players were charged with hitting Tedesco high between rounds seven and 10 – Jordan Periera, Marata Niukore and Lachlan Burr.
Crackdown rules are set to be enforced over the Origin series with Fittler confirming he will speak to referees boss Jared Maxwell just to ‘have a chat’ about the officiating.
Queensland coach Paul Green, however, said he won’t be doing the same thing.
“I haven’t yet and there’s nothing planned at this stage, but there’s been plenty of commentary around the fact that it’ll be reffed in the same way,” he told Triple M on Sunday.
“I just would hate to see in Origin a team with 11 players for a period of time.
“You’d hate to see that decide a game or a series.
“The players have been playing under those conditions for a few weeks now, so they’re used to it now.
“There’s been less sin bins the last couple of weeks so it’s stabilising a little bit.”