BLOCKER: Why Sonny Bill Williams is in the wrong


If Sonny Bill Williams wants to boycott the Anzac Test, then he shouldn't be allowed to play for the Roosters. It's that simple.

I've read with interest reports during the week he didn't want to make himself available for selection for the annual clash with Australia.

Then I heard Stephen Kearney during the week claiming he had never entered calculations for the Test.

Let's address Sonny Bill's stance first. If he's still filthy at being named in allegations Kiwi players mixed sleeping pills and energy drinks during the World Cup then he needs to get over it.

Most people have forgotten about it. He's got only a few months left in rugby league and you would think he would be taking what will probably his last chance to represent his country in the sport very seriously.

But perhaps of more concern is Kearney's stance. You pick your best 17 for any representative fixture.

And then if Sonny Bill says he doesn't want to play he should be stood down from club duties.

Who cares if he's going to be playing union next year or the year after that? I don't. I just want to see him play at the highest level while he's still in league.

That's why Kearney's comments during the week that he and the New Zealand selectors weren't considering Sonny Bill almost made me fall off my chair.

International rugby league seems to be fighting this ongoing battle for relevance. We've got to look after it. This latest episode shows we're doing everything but.

Imagine the promotional tool and pulling power the game would have for Sonny Bill's last Test for the Kiwis, which should be pushing along sluggish ticket sales.

This week has hardly created the headlines we need to rejuvenate international rugby league.

Well, Glenn Stewart will officially not end his career at Manly.

Only a few weeks ago I spoke about how the NRL needed to look at more salary cap concessions for long-serving players, maybe lowering the length of service to five years before the kickbacks are triggered.

I know Glenn reasonably well and he’s Manly through and through. He’s trying to talk up the challenge of playing for another club but he didn’t want to go anywhere.

He just wanted to finish his career with his brother.

But maybe this is a lesson in back-ending contracts. Managing the cap turned into a science. When you have four or five blokes on multi-year deals where they’re earning big money at the end of them, someone has to go.

It’s embarrassing, if true, that Manly didn’t even offer him a deal. Yet we expect loyalty and engagement from our fans when our game fosters a farce like the Stewart one.

Let’s hope something can be done to avoid another disastrous situation like this in the future.

I'll admit – I’m an old simple-minded front-rower. But it’s not rocket science to figure out the obstruction rule, and the interpretations of it by the eyes in the sky, isn’t working.

If you run behind a decoy while carrying the ball, it’s a penalty. Simple enough?

If a decoy runner initiates contact with a defender, it’s a penalty to the defensive team. Easy? If a defender initiates contact with a decoy runner, it’s play on. Got it?

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? 

So how come there is at least one incident in every game, every week where the video referees seem to be getting the obstruction rule wrong?

There are still going to be times when there are a couple of mistakes made, but it’s really not that hard to get the correct call on this grey area.

In 99per cent of incidents, you can tell who makes contact first and who changed their line to make contact with the opposition player.

Watch the defender’s eyes. 

If they’ve got eyes for the decoy runner, you can pretty much assume they’re reading the play wrong and are going to initiate contact. If they’ve got eyes for the man out the back then most of the time the decoy runner is going to be at fault for the obstruction.

Luke Brooks’s case was an example of this. 

Players are often coached these days to make the most of the contact and he certainly wasn’t hit hard by David Gower. But I still think it was a penalty as he had eyes for the man out the back and that’s the only place he was heading.

The obstruction rule and its ramifications are turning too many people away from the game at the moment. 

It’s become a lottery.

Let’s just simplify things and get back to talking about the footy.


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