NRL set for penalty crackdown as problem area resurfaces

Josh Massoud

Referees blew an incredible 14 penalties for incorrect play-the-balls in the season's first trial between Melbourne and Newcastle.

Whistle-blowers have resumed with a fierce determination to eradicate the growing plague of players merely rolling the ball between their legs, without making any genuine effort to touch the ball with their foot.

Coaches across the NRL were warned there would be a crackdown this year – but few could have predicted its severity.

The first three sets of Wednesday's closed trial at AAMI Park were punctuated by penalties.

Newcastle was pulled-up on its opening two opportunities with the ball, and coach Nathan Brown later revealed his side was penalised ten times for the same offence.

However, Brown had no issues with the strict enforcement of the rule; shifting the onus on his players to be more disciplined.