NRL under fire over deceptive detail in promotional ad for Las Vegas games

The NRL ad targeting the US audience has raised eyebrows.

Elliot Whitehead tackles Dale Finucane in the NRL.
An Elliot Whitehead (pictured left) sin-bin tackle has raised eyebrows in the new NRL ad targeting the US audience. (Images: NRL/Channel Nine)

The NRL has released its new ad to entice Americans to watch the game's opening round in Las Vegas, but a small detail in the video involving Elliot Whitehead has raised eyebrows. Fans will watch the Manly Sea Eagles taking on the Rabbitohs in the opening round in Las Vegas, while the Roosters will take on last year's finalists the Broncos.

Fans got a taste of the NRL's first ad targeting the US audience in what will be a historic moment. The ad promotes the 'No pads, no helmets, no fear' style of rugby league, which is in stark contrast to the NFL.

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However, in only the second tackle of the advertisement, Whitehead from the Raiders is seen making clear shoulder contact to Dale Finucane's head. The tackle, made in Magic Round in 2022, saw Finucane on the floor clearly concussed.

He left the field and didn't return, which he also put down to a knee injury. However, Whitehead was put on report and was handed 10 minutes in the bin. The forward escaped a suspension after the game, but the tackle was deemed bad enough for 10 minutes on the sideline.

And one fan questioned why the NRL used the footage of a head-high tackle to promote the game. The NRL has made an effort to try and deter all head-high contact in tackles with a trip to the bin. This comes as more and more NRL players talk about their battle with concussion.

The NRL is clearly not short of sensational highlight reel tackles that could have been used to promote the game. The detail that has come to light follows as the NFL deals with its own concussion issues across the sport.

While the tagline 'No pads, no helmets' is meant to promote the game, fans have argued whether it will resonate with the US audience. Some feel it could be condescending to the US market, while others feel it could be a winner.

NRL draw causes uproar between fans

The biggest winner from the 2024 draw is arguably Cronulla, who have been handed what is theoretically the easiest schedule of all 17 clubs. After bowing out of the first week of the finals this year Craig Fitzgibbon's side only face nine games against 2023's top-eight teams, the lowest of any club in the draw.

The Sharks only play one side from last season's top four twice and face all of the bottom four from 2023 two times. Parramatta and Souths have been handed a rough path back to the finals after last season's disappointments, with 13 games against the top eight from 2023, with Storm facing the next most treacherous run, playing 12 of a possible 14 games against the 2023 finalists.

Nathan Cleary celebrates the NRL premiership.
The Panthers and Nathan Cleary won't take part in the NRL's Las Vegas round. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images) (Matt King via Getty Images)

Manly fans were in uproar they will have to play the Broncos again during Magic Round in a game that is considered a home fixture.

The NRL season will kickstart a new era when Manly and South Sydney kick off the year in a Las Vegas doubleheader on March 2. Matches this season will also be played in Christchurch, Bundaberg and Darwin, while the Perth double-header has become a single fixture after the Rabbitohs pulled out.

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