Rugby league legends Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns fear players milking penalties could end up souring the NRL finals series.
There were farcical scenes on Saturday when Parramatta veteran Blake Ferguson was tackled by Penrith players, and then he stayed lying on the ground grabbing the back of his neck.
Ferguson was awarded a penalty but then immediately leapt to his feet to confront the Panthers, proving he was never seriously injured and was in fact playing for the whistle.
Milking has been an issue in the NRL all year and ahead of the State of Origin series, Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans called for a “gentlemen’s agreement” that would stop the ugly practice creeping into the interstate blockbuster.
But Ferguson’s Academy Award-worthy act in the semi finals has thrust the topic right back in the rugby league spotlight.
Sterlo calls for NRL to address six-again farce
“(The Ferguson incident is) the straw that broke the camel’s back. Surely the bunker pulls out of that part of the game now,” Fittler told Freddy And The Eighth (watch above).
“It was just ridiculous.
“They will be doing it (in the preliminary finals) for sure. If the system hasn’t changed, so they haven’t given clubs direction. If you’re not using every possible tactic then someone is going to use it against you.
“It’s a bit of a shame and they will change it for next year.
“I remember Daly Cherry-Evans going into Origin saying ‘there’s a gentlemen’s agreement’… and no one did, there was not a player that took a dive for the whole series. I just don’t think that happens at club level.
“I’m not instructing, but the players know. If they get hit in the face they just lie down, and the bunker can’t help itself but come in.
“It will be happening without a doubt.”
Storm star’s frank admission
Johns agrees milking is a blight on the game and he believes the blame should lie squarely with the coaches, not the players.
“I just find it humorous after a game when the coaches complain, when they’re the ones that invent and initiate these things. It makes me laugh,” Johns said.
“Can we just get out there and play footy?”
Fittler agreed the coaches are to blame but he says they won’t stop manipulating the rules.
“It’s the system though. The coaches will abuse anything they can, it’s what they do, it’s their job,” Fittler said.
“If you allow a system to oversee every collision, seriously. The system can be better.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!