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Annesley: Teams risking sin bin for deliberate six-agains

Graham Annesley has reiterated referees have the sin bin at their disposal to deter teams from deliberately conceding six-agains and gaining a tactical advantage.

The NRL's head of football addressed the issue in light of increased debate and criticism, which began after a string of six-agains were awarded in Queensland's Ampol State of Origin III win last Wednesday.

Blues coach Brad Fittler claimed, among other spoiling tactics, the Maroons deliberately committed 10-metre offside infringements at the start of tackle counts to get their line set and halt the NSW momentum.

Teams are being accused of committing a 10-metre or ruck infringement on the first play because they only end up defending an extra tackle.

The Roosters had the finger pointed at them in Saturday's win over the Cowboys but they have denied deliberately conceding six-agains as they defended their line so they could slow the play down in order to number up and contain the attack.

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"We have seen an increase in six-agains, there's no question. We've seen an increase in six-agains early in the tackle count and in particular field positions," Annesley said on Monday.

"Referees are being reminded and will continue to be reminded that they have [the sin bin] as an option.

"Now, I'm not for a moment suggesting that we're starting an all-out blitz on players being penalised and sent to the sin bin. The referee has to make that call based on the circumstances of the match, so I'm not suggesting that for a moment.

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"It's not that they don't have tools to deal with this, but they have to pick the right moment to do it and they have to ensure that it's in keeping with what's happening in the game and the general trend that's developing in any particular game."

However, Annesley said whistleblowers relied on their own judgement in deciding if and when to use the sin bin in those situations.

"The referee has to make a call on these things. They're doing it based on what they think is appropriate in that game to try and give both teams an equal chance to display their ability," he said.

"I get a little bemused in some ways at times when it's the players that breach the rules, but it's the referees that get the blame for enforcing them. And I get that at times people will say, 'Well, why was that one awarded and not that one?'

"But our game's not an exact science. Referees could blow up six-agains and penalties right across the course of the game.

"Our game is about continuity, it's about both teams getting equal opportunity, and the referees have to use discretion.

"If we took all discretion away from the referees, we'd have a stop-start game that maybe resembles another code."

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Roosters five-eighth Drew Hutchison insisted his team aren't being coached to tactically commit six-again offences.

"I don't think it's ever used tactically. Any time you give away six-again it's really putting pressure on your team," he said.

"Sometimes it's a decision people make. If they're going to lay in the ruck they're going to give a six-again.

"Sometimes it hurts your team and other times it slows the ruck down. There's no right way to use it.

"I can't say we use it as a tactic at all, no."

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Roosters forward Angus Crichton concurred, saying: "You never want to give away penalties or six-again.

"Every single time I do my review and I've got a six-again I get roasted by the coach [Trent Robinson]. Our coaches are definitely trying to make us not give six-again away."

Elsewhere in his weekly Monday media briefing, Annesley admitted the NRL Bunker erred in awarding the Raiders an eight-point try after Sharks playmaker Braydon Trindall barely hit Jordan Rapana high.

Ultimately, it didn't have a serious impact on the result as Canberra kicked away to win 34-18.

"It's more accidental and incidental contact in the act of a try being scored, so I think that's a pretty low bar if that's where the Bunker is going to set the standard for what constitutes an eight-point try," Annesley said.

He also conceded Cronulla centre Jesse Ramien was wrongly penalised for a second-half shoulder charge on Rapana.

And he confirmed Warriors prop Kane Evans would face sanctions after writing an offensive word on his wrist tape in Sunday's game against the Panthers. Evans didn't play but was pictured on the bench.

Sharks front-rower Andrew Fifita was fined after writing an inappropriate message on his strapping tape in 2016.

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On another topic, Annesley said he received a call from Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett, who wasn't pleased about being on the end of a lopsided penalty and six-again count in Sunday's loss to the Rabbitohs.

"I've already told Jared Maxwell [general manager of elite officiating] this morning that I'll have a more detailed conversation with him about some of the concerns that were raised during our conversation," he said.

"Trent's a good guy. I've known him for a long time and the conversation was all in the right spirit. He's obviously a bit frustrated with losing some games recently, and I get that.

"I've been in the club situation myself, so I know how frustrating things can be when things don't seem to be going your way."

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