Milking has plagued the NRL in recent weeks, but Friday night’s semi-final between the Eels and Raiders delivered a blueprint on how the league can stamp out the ugly antics.
When Mitchell Moses was thumped in a Jack Wighton tackle in the 53rd minute of the CommBank Stadium clash, the Parramatta halfback did not play the ball, instead holding the footy under his left arm as he glanced around.
While he may have been experiencing concussion symptoms after the back of his head thudded into the turf, there was also the possibility that he was not hurt and was trying to draw a penalty.
AS IT HAPPENED: Moses magic puts Eels into prelim finals
READ MORE: Eels one win away from NRL grand final berth
READ MORE: Amazing Federer’s ‘hardest loss, by far’
Play continued as Moses received medical attention, before an independent doctor ordered the 28-year-old from the field for a head injury assessment.
Moses argued with the doctor but eventually succumbed to his instruction, before passing his HIA and returning to the field as Parramatta carved out a 40-4 triumph over Canberra.
Darren Lockyer fired a warning at NRL players after the game, which saw the Eels set up a preliminary final against the Cowboys in Townsville.
“We’ve been seeing it for the past few weeks. Sometimes you’re going to get hit in the head and you are concussed and you will come from the field. I think we’ve seen other times players lay down and wait for the Bunker to get a penalty when they haven’t got any concussion symptoms,” Lockyer said on Nine’s coverage.
“But in doing that you run the risk of coming off the field for 15 minutes.
“So, I think this is just telling the players that if you want to lay down and try to milk a penalty, off you go for 15 minutes.”
Stream the NRL premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now
Latrell Mitchell was widely criticised for milking during the Rabbitohs’ elimination final win over the Roosters.
The South Sydney fullback denied the milking claims in a press conference, but he also made a telling admission.
“The Bunker’s taken over the game, so I guess that’s how the game is played,” Mitchell said.
As the independent doctor directed Moses from the field on Friday night, Cameron Smith emphasised the need for players to be “careful”.
“They tread a fine line,” Smith said.
“If they choose to stay on the ground, searching for a penalty, then they run the risk of leaving the field for at least 15 minutes.”
Moses failed a HIA during the Eels’ qualifying final loss to the Panthers after bending low for a tackle and copping a Viliame Kikau knee.
Moses played a starring role in Parramatta’s win over Canberra, scoring a try, setting up another and registering 120 run metres.
The Eels will strive to reach their first grand final since 2009 in their clash with the Cowboys at Queensland Country Bank Stadium next Friday night.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!