NRL probes Eels trainer over controversial act
The incident in question occurred during a try conversion kick from Panthers skipper Nathan Cleary in the second half, with Penrith holding a 14-10 lead at the time.
As Cleary struck the ball – which eventually sailed outside the far goal post – an Eels trainer can be seen running across the face of the posts, with the NRL questioning whether it was a deliberate act.
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According to a Sydney Morning Herald report, Eels sources are adamant that it was not a deliberate act by the trainer in question – assistant coach Steve Murphy.
The missed kick proved to be extremely costly for the reigning premiers, who went down by two points in one of the games of the season. It was Penrith’s first home loss since the 2019 season.
While the NRL is still investigating the matter, a look at its operations manual for the 2022 season shows that Murphy’s actions were illegal.
“Trainers must not at any time enter the line of sight of a player when he is attempting a kick for a goal, or do anything which may in any way unnecessarily interfere with or distract an opposition player whilst he is participating in the match or constitute some disadvantage to the opposing team,” one of the rules in the 2022 operations manual reads.
NRL head of football, Graham Annesley, said the league is aware of the incident, and it is expected to be a discussion point in Monday’s meeting to review the entire round.
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Incredibly, Friday night’s incident is not the first time a trainer has been involved in a tense Penrith-Parramatta clash, after Panthers trainer Pete Green was suspended for illegally stopping an Eels attack in last year’s spiteful semi-final between the two teams.
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The Panthers were slapped with a $25,000 fine while Green received a two-match suspension after the NRL deemed that he unnecessarily halted an Eels attack when he asked the touch judge to stop the game to treat injured hooker Mitch Kenny.
Green’s actions resulted in the NRL changing its rules prior to the start of the 2022 season, with the league stripping a trainer’s right to stop play in the event of an injury, unless the injury is a head knock.