‘We’ve trained our players to fall’: Farcical obstruction sight slammed

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Rugby league great Steve Roach and fans have savaged a call that has cost the New Zealand Warriors dearly in their 14-8 loss to the Newcastle Knights on Sunday afternoon.

The Warriors have fallen a long way from their 2023 heights, having luck and more than a few calls go against them in 2024.

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In the 51st minute with the Knights leading 8-6, the Warriors looked to have finally hit the lead after Dallin Watene-Zelezniak scored a spectacular try in the corner.

But referee Chris Butler sent the try upstairs as a no try, claiming there had been an obstruction in the lead up.

As the footage was show, league great Steve Roach was fuming.

“Hastings has put his arms around him — I think that’s play on,” he said on Fox League.

“He’s tackled the bloke without the ball you could say. Ford’s running into the space to try and run through — he’s put his arms around him!”

The video ref however saw it as Ford “runs at the chest of Jackson Hastings and creates a disadvantage”.

All Roach could say was “honestly”.

Andrew Voss conceded: “He sold it — that’s what we teach our modern day rugby league players to do”.

“But he put his arms around him to make a tackle, he hasn’t got the football,” Roach pleaded.

Voss added: “Back in the day, the defender would push himself off the lead runner and continue to try and make the tackle, but now we’ve trained our players to fall.”

While it appears as though Voss is using every word but calling Hastings’ actions in the obstruction a dive, it’s hard to blame the players from using the rules to their advantage.

Although some fans felt it was a textbook obstruction, others were lamenting how easy it is for players to be able to earn their side a penalty and deny their opposition a try.

Fox League sideline reporter Tiffany Salmond wrote: “Not a fan of the obstruction rule at all. Where is the decoy runner meant to go? It doesn’t make sense. It should only be used when a player is obviously taken out on purpose.”

Jordan Patu posted: “Jackson Hastings has wrapped with both hands to make a tackle then pulled out when he realised he could be rewarded for making a bad defensive decision. This sport is broken.”

An X account named Rugby League Soap Opera added: “NRL rules just encourage diving, whether its hip drops, crusher tackles or obstruction calls, the NRL seems to have no problem with the diving in the game to gain advantage.”

Another fan commented: “Hastings commits to a tackle but they call it obstruction. How idiotic is the bunker?”

Another said: “This obstruction rule is a dead set joke. The powers that be are intent on destroying this great game. No way Hastings would have stopped that try.”

However, Warriors coach Andrew Webster, who has made a point not to criticise the NRL’s decisions in press conferences, didn’t have too much of a problem with the decision.

“Jackson Hastings was just defending so tight on that play, it was probably pretty hard for Jackson Ford where he could run, but it’s the rule, he hit him on the outside shoulder,” Webster said.

“He did wrap his arms but I don’t think he was trying to tackle him.

“I don’t know if it has a result on the play but at the end of the day the ruling is that you hit the outside shoulder, we got done for it.

“There’s a couple of things around our timing that could have been better.”

It was not the only controversial call after Watene-Zelezniak was tackled in the air moments before halftime in what appeared to be a clear-cut penalty try, only for the Bunker to deem it only worth a penalty.

Warriors coach Andrew Webster wasn’t about to make excuses, saying the side’s discipline had been sapping the side of energy.

Unfortunately for the New Zealand side who captivated the NRL in 2023, the side is 14th with just three wins and a draw in 2024.

The side are riding a three-match losing streak and are set to face the Roosters, Panthers and Dolphins in their next three matches.

With Jack Blyth, NCA Newswire

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