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.