ONLY one group, the players themselves, can effectively put a stop to the incidence of "diving" in the NRL.

It is a blight on the game and has gained alarming momentum in season 2013. But the lead must come from the captains. The NRL can introduce as many stipulations and rule variations as it likes, but unless the players want this practice stamped out there will be those who find a way to feign an injury in the hope of scoring a penalty.

Old school I may be, but I'm not a believer in what is old is always good.

The adage "what happens on the field stays on the field" was buried when video replays became a part of the jurisdiction.

And while the video referee is now an irritating part of the game, in the majority of cases the correct result is adjudicated. But more often than not when a player stays down after a glancing blow to the head - a prevalence of late - it is nothing more than to milk a penalty. And that is not in the spirit of the game.

The current NRL captains form a powerful group. Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Robbie Farah, Anthony Minichiello, Paul Gallen, Sam Thaiday, Kurt Gidley, Jamie Lyon and Michel Ennis are highly regarded and well respected among their peers. If they were to decide collectively that diving in the game was a no-no, the practice would cease.

And rather than have the covenant formalised, a gentleman's agreement would hold more sway among the players.

This same coalition should also agree to outlaw dubious tackling techniques, such as the one for which Jeff Lima was recently suspended.

They are the leaders of their men and it is them who can dictate how our game is played, and how the current generation of players is remembered.

Rugby league - at NRL level - is a brutal, unforgiving sport played by tough young men, but that should not mean it can't be played within a certain spirit. It's time to bring back some old-school values.

A tough gig

THE Titans have secured themselves a good man in new chief executive Graham Annesley - and hopefully he is the right man.

Since big-time rugby league hit the Gold Coast in 1988 with the Giants, the game has never been able to grab more than a toehold. The Seagulls, Gladiators and Chargers followed before the Titans were born in 2007.

Although the Titans have been a breath of fresh air in many ways, success on and off the field has again avoided the most recent Gold Coast franchise. Boardroom and financial issues have been just as damaging as the on-field failures.

Annesley is their third CEO in just seven years, but has good credentials. He spent 15 years as a senior referee plus another seven as a chief NRL administrator before entering New South Wales politics in 2011.

He might not be the messiah who can save the Titans financially or on the field, but he sure brings some clout and class to the role of CEO.

Three observations

  •  IF FOR the remainder of the season the Sharks were to repeat the kind of performance they displayed against the Roosters on Monday night, they could win their first premiership. That was the most aggressive, no-holds-barred 80-minute display by any NRL team all year and proved this competition was far from over. But Sharks fans are entitled to ask whether it was a one-off performance.
  •  KADE Snowden deserved to be suspended because he broke the jaw of Ray Thompson, but the clash was accidental. Like Snowden, Thompson plays a sport that is physically demanding and dangerous, and accidents do happen. As a dummy half, Thompson takes the ball to the line and runs in to heavy traffic. I feel for both players - one is a victim of the tough game he plays, the other the victim of political correctness overkill.
  •  IF A recent throwaway line from Darren Lockyer is more closely examined, the consternation over the future of Josh Hoffman at the Broncos may be unwarranted. While commenting on speculation that Ben Barba's management wanted $1 million a year for him to head north, Lockyer wrote in his column: "He is unproven at five-eighth and that sort of money is excessive." I doubt the "unproven at five-eighth" reference was a slip of Locky's pen.


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