Exclusive: Ex-Super League referee reveals why play-acting has crept into the game following Leeds Rhinos incident

One major talking point has taken over what should have been a celebrated Super League fixture that had a play-off feeling to it.

Leeds Rhinos hosted the Huddersfield Giants last night at Headingley, knowing that a win would help them consolidate a place in the top six ahead of a busy fixture period.

To be fair to both sides, it was an incredible game full of big hits – some illegal it has to be said – quality skill and great plays, but the main point from last night’s fixture was the incident in the last ten minutes.

It involved Leeds’ Richie Myler and Huddersfield’s Chris Hill with the latter tackling the former after Myler had caught a high ball.

The tackle wasn’t controversial but what followed was as the Rhinos’ fullback threw his legs into the air to make it look as though Hill had tackled him dangerously.

Referee Jack Smith saw this and immediately penalised the Huddersfield man, sending him to the sinbin and ensuring that Hill missed the closing stages of the game whilst Myler continued on.

Former Super League referee Ian Smith labels such an incident as ‘disappointing’, but does not know the way forward.

“I think it’s a disappointing look for the game,” Smith told Serious About Rugby League.

“Richie Myler felt the squeeze from Hill in the tackle and made the most of it to gain a penalty, but I’m not sure what the way forward is to be honest.

“None of the coaches and players seem to like it in our game yet it still happens so maybe it’s either coach and peer pressure might stop it or it’s up to the RFL to retrospectively ban players if they feel it’s not in the spirit of the game.”

Smith does believe, however, that the crackdown on high shots has, for some reason, transformed into play-acting.

“In the past it took a decent high shot to get a penalty so the little glances around the head weren’t penalised.

“But now any glance or contact with the head is a penalty so certain players are ensuring the ref sees it by throwing their head back which is disappointing.”

What’s the answer? It seems like the only way to stop this happening is to penalise those play-acting, whether on the field or via the Match Review Panel.

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