NRL 2024: Annesley says Blues had every right to recall James Tedesco

NRL football boss Graham Annesley revealed that six requests for late call-ups to the State of Origin squad from players outside a team’s original 20-man squad had been approved since 2018 and that there was “nothing unusual” about NSW’s request to parachute in James Tedesco.

The clarification came amid claims from Queensland that the Blues should not have been allowed to bring back their former captain as quickly as possible to replace the injured Dylan Edwards, and suggested that other players in the squad could have been used as replacements.

Even those who question the move through maroon glasses may have a bad memory. Annesley points out that there have been similar cases in recent years, with Queensland signing three players from outside the original squad in the 2021 series alone.

Ben Hunt, Xavier Coates and Coen Hess all joined the Queensland squad this year, with Annesley revealing there have been over 130 team lineups in the NRL since 2021, most of which were approved after clubs sent written requests requesting a last-minute change to cover for an injured, ill or family emergency player.

“Some publications have claimed that this was an unfair move and that Tedesco should not have been included in the team after Edwards’ withdrawal,” he said.

“There is nothing unusual about what happened.

“We want to see both State of Origin teams at peak strength, not because someone has changed their mind but because of an injury or illness that requires a specialist position to be filled.

“In the NRL competition, 22 players are allowed to be nominated each week and in doing so, we generally require them to replace injuries in their 22 and we generally ask them to replace the first injury unless there is a specific reason why they cannot do so.

“When they lose someone, we usually bring in a substitute.

“The difference with Origin is that we only allow them to select 20 players. So they already have two fewer players than an NRL team each week.”

Annesley also spoke out against the referees in Saturday’s golden point game between the Dolphins and Raiders, in which the Green Machine won thanks to a field goal by Jordan Rapana.

The Dolphins claimed there was interference, but replays showed that Jeremy Marshall-King initiated the contact and no one was obstructed.

This came after the Dolphins thought they had won, but the referee penalized Max Plath for blocking the guards. Annesley also revealed that Jamayne Isaako’s attempt missed, even though most thought it went over.

“The pursuers have to take a step and go around Plath, who then extends his right arm. The contact is inconsequential, but what slows the pursuit is the need to go around the blocker to get to the ball,” he said.

“For that to be a goal, the ball has to land inside the right post. The ball actually casts a shadow when it goes past the right post, so that was never the winning field goal because it missed.

“It was irrelevant because we hadn’t gotten to that point yet. We had a referee’s decision and I think the decision regarding the blocker was correct.”

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