Ball tracking not just for forward passes, AFL style signings window option being considered

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The NRL is in the closing stages of its ball-tracking technology with recommendations to be presented to the ARL Commission for moves that have the potential to give definitive rulings on forward pass calls.

There is also the potential for the technology to track 40/20 and 20/40 kicks or whether the ball has bounced over the cornerpost into touch in-goal or in the field of play or whether kicks at goal went between the uprights even if they go over the top of the posts.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley said his department was verifying the data from the trial usage of the new ball and they would then present a business case to the Commission before they decide how it might be applied in the premiership.

The NRLW has been using technology-embedded balls created by UK-based company Sportable – the high-tech Steedens contain an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer to track its exact moment.

Once the results are collated from the trials, Annesley told reporter Chris Kennedy that they may adjust the “margin of acceptability” by a degree or a few more if the data suggests too many current passes are travelling forward out of the players’ hands.

Annesley said the technology could only be used in try-scoring plays or more often in games, if it’s adopted.

“The issue of forward passes it one of the few remaining areas of the game where there can be judgement errors that can have a big influence on the outcome of the game,” he said. “We’d like to move as quickly as possible but we have a few steps to go before we get there.”

NRL considering transfer window options

The NRL is considering a hard-line stance on player transfers by only having one signings window at the end of the season, in line with the AFL system.

Rugby League Central is considering its options to overhaul the controversial signings system in the wake of a spate of players signing with new clubs more than 12 months out from the start of their new deals.

Teams are having their rosters decimated with Parramatta losing Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs), Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers), Ray Stone (Dolphins), Marata Niukore (Warriors) and Oregon Kaufusi (Sharks) for 2023 before a ball was kicked this season and Melbourne facing a similar purge with Dolphins recruits Felise Kaufusi, Kenny Bromwich and Jesse Bromwich, and Roosters-bound Kiwi international Brandon Smith departing.

CEO Andrew Abdo said the NRL was negotiating with the Rugby League Players Association about the signings system as part of the collective bargaining agreement discussions.

He said a system which also included a mid-season transfer window was also one of the options on the table.

“That’s all up for debate and I don’t know where we will land,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “

“We’ve put forward natural opportunities to think about the window, particularly the main one being at the end of the season. Following the grand final, having then an opportunity for players, agents and clubs to engage and interact, and have everything done in the off-season is probably what clubs are after to give teams the ability to begin their pre-season knowing what their full squad is.”

Transfer windows generate plenty of interest in other professional sports like football, the AFL, NBA and NFL. Currently, the NRL allows for players to negotiate and sign with rival clubs from November 1 in the year preceding the final season of a contract. 

Eels coach Brad Arthur told SEN Radio on Thursday morning that the current system was flawed.

“I’m don’t know what the right answer is. From a player’s perspective, they want their future sorted,” he said before adding that players at all clubs are professional enough to continue putting in for their team before joining their new one.

Sam Walker of the Roosters warms up

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Walker needs to improve defence: Ennis

Roosters five-eighth Sam Walker needs to improve his tackling technique or he will continue to be targeted by opposition attackers, according to Fox League analyst.

The former premiership-winning Sharks hooker said he played alongside a five-eighth in James Maloney who also missed a lot of tackles but was not a liability.

Walker has missed 18 tackles in three outings this year as the slightly built 19-year-old looks to build on his impressive rookie campaign in 2021.

“You look at when Walker came in and I think it’s been glowingly refreshing to watch a kid come in and play the way that he plays. I think we all agree with that,” Ennis said on NRL 360 on Wednesday night.

“But if you look at the Roosters and the Bondi wall that they talk about, which Cooper [Cronk] was a huge part of that,Cooper was very good defensively. You look at some of the other great halfbacks like Joey [Andrew Johns], even Nathan Cleary at the moment. They are really good defensively.

“We do expect a lot of young kids but defensively as well, it’s tough, the NRL. And physically the more he keeps missing, the more he is going to get targeted. But I think he is going OK.”

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