MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 17: Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad of the Raiders is challenged by his opponents during the round 22 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Canberra Raiders at AAMI Park on August 17, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley has defended the Melbourne Storm after their wrestling tactics have come under the microscope in recent weeks.

The incidents over the past two weeks have increased the level of scrutiny on the Storm, however, Annesley believes there was no evidence to say Storm players were doing anything different compared to the 17 other teams in the competition.

“It would be irresponsible for me to say that a team or any team is more at fault in breaching the rules than any other team,” Annesley said.

Annesley’s words come after Nelson Asofa-Solomona avoided a ban for a crusher tackle and captain Cameron Smith being caught on camera pulling the ear of Canberra winger Bailey Simonsson during the Raiders’ 22-18 win on Saturday night.

The Storm’s wrestling and niggling tactics came under the microscope once again during the past fortnight after South Sydney Rabbitohs General Manager of Football Shane Richardson blasted Bellamy’s men after the sides met nine days ago.

Richardson questioned the wrestling tactics implemented by the Storm, getting off lightly at the NRL judiciary and the special treatment Smith gets from the referee’s on a weekly basis.

This led to a war of words between Richardson and Storm CEO Dave Donaghy last week, which led to Donaghy writing a letter to Storm’s members,

“And, like clockwork, the annual Storm bashing of our Club has begun. Funny how it always seems to happen about this time of the year, every year.

“As a Club we always focus on being the best we can, on and off the field, and treat white noise as just that.”

Annesley’s words didn’t end the talk surrounding the Storm as discussion was rife last night on Fox Sports NRL 360 with hosts Ben Ikin and Paul Kent having a heated argument over whether Melbourne’s techniques were against the spirit of the game.

“You can tackle hard, you can do your best, but to go out and deliberately drop your knees into blokes, to put elbow pressure into their groins, to rub your knuckles along their temple which is a soft spot on your head, to getting pressure points under your ears,” Kent said.

“The game has got to show some guts and fix it.”

The Storm host the last-placed Titans on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park with a win guaranteeing them a top-two finish.


  1. It’s all just more Sydney media sooks having a cry, these fools never got over the fact the N in NRL stands for National and not New South Wales.
    If you think this is all part of a global conspiracy to help Melbourne, well that’s pure crazy. The number of ex Storm players, coaches and officials at other clubs who could spread secrets is huge, yet none have come out and said Storm players are taught to cheat and purposely hurt players. Similarly no NRL officials or ex refs have come out and said we are instructed to give Melbourne free reign.
    Even Cooper Cronk has said the Storm are doing nothing different to the Sydney Roosters, but for some reason nothing is said about that.
    So go out and stock up on tissues and feel free to keep on sooking as the Storm March on to another Premiership.

  2. Now that you have all that out of your system do you feel better now??

    Insecurity & arrogance mixed together is an ugly look.

  3. Firstly, Smith does not pull Bailey’s ear, This frame is highly selective and the media seem to be trying to pull another “Channel 9” hatchet job on Smith. If you look at the sequence or you see a couple of frames before (there is such an image somewhere on the net) then you can clearly see that Smith is pulling his jumper over his ear.

    Secondly, Even if Smith was pulling the guys ear that is a heck of a lot less damaging than eye gouging, dropping with the elbow/knees, thumping someone or a miriad of other such niggling tactics that don’t get mentioned because they are done by none Storm players.

    Thirdly, Ricky Stuart joins the bandwagon about the Storm’s techniques and foul play etc and then his team go out and get 2 men sent to the bin in the first 20 minutes. Canberra were the ones that were niggling all afternoon but we will just ignore that and try and pick something up about the Storm.

    The media are Pathetic.

  4. The media are disillusion if they think storm get special treatment. They should give Mrs Smith another $15 000 dollar diamond ring to apologize.

  5. Of course the Storm are in the clear they get away with everything especially when the referees boss is wearing the 9 jersey.

    When do the rest of the storm players and coaches wife get their diamond rings?

    That was a not in the spirit of the game act by Smith against Canberra and he should’ve been charged AGAIN.

  6. Nice try by the roosters to have their media patsies try and unsettle the storm b4 the semis like they did to souths last year with the roosters supporter posting false pics

  7. I wouldn’t expect anything else from the NRL. It’s always deny, deny, deny. As for Smith. He didnt pull any ears, but he did jam the guys head between both his forearms and squeeze really hard on his temple. GRUB. AND if storm get no favours, then tell me why smith was allowed 5 minutes to debate with the ref about why he was penalised. Any other player would have been marched another 10 metres and then sent to the bin if they kept going on with it like smith did. What a joke.

  8. Hey Rucky you are 100% wrong.
    I do replays for afox and Smith grabs the Jersey to hide the fact he grabs the players ears.
    Sorry but you are wrong and yes Smith gets better treatment from the ref and the NRL along with the Storm.
    It’s a on going joke at Foxsports and the NRL. I’ll let you in on a secret the Roosters also have a lot of pull behind closed doors. It’s not the NRL but many still see it as NSWRL.

  9. What is contrary to the spirit of the game is all this crap journalism mainly about the Storm that goes around at this time of year. It is the same sort of hate filled crap that fuels the ongoing “Salary Cap Cheats” tag every so often through out the season every single year despite that event being a decade old. It fuels the Wrestling debacle every year coming up to finals time. Its quite simply ridiculous and loads of fans are brain washed by it.

    Storm get favouritism – oh yeah, just look at Cronulla, drug cheats – hit with a feather duster and back dated bans, cap cheats – hit with a feather duster and 2016 cheating covered up so they can keep there trophy, Coach who assembled and directed his team by phone and email whilst banned then goes on to coach an illegally assembled team during 2016 – coach banned (hooray) but allowed to keep their already dubious premiership but all this is forgotten already as far as the Sydney media is concerned. Then there was the Eels cheating and mis-management that was so bad that a state official had to step but lets forget that – now what can we bash Melbourne with next ? That is real favouritism.

    The big problem as far as NSWRL is concerned is that the Melbourne Storm were supposed to fail. The fact that they didn’t and went from strength to strength sticks in the craw of every single one of them. They are hated with a passion by die hard inward looking traditionalists that think only the old traditional clubs ought to exist and hate being beaten by a far better “new” club. Its time these jurnos were held to account for their irresponsible reporting that is not in the spirit of the game.

    Go Storm.

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