Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Scott Bailey

Penrith kick blockers fair and legal: Kevin Walters

Penrith protect their kickers more effectively than other teams, Broncos coach Kevin Walters says. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Brisbane coach Kevin Walters insists he has no issues with Penrith's kick blocking, conceding the only difference between the Panthers and other clubs is that the reigning champs use the tactic more effectively.

The issue of kick blockers has reared its ugly head for the third straight finals series ahead of Sunday's NRL decider, amid claims Penrith employ illegal tactics in order to protect halfback Nathan Cleary.

Under NRL rules, players can be penalised if the referee believes they have deliberately obstructed a defender.

Players are allowed to take up a position behind the ruck, and would usually have to move into a defender's way to be penalised.

No player has been blown up for blocking a defender trying to pressure a kicker in general play this year, with penalties rare for anything other than field-goal situations.

Pressed on whether Penrith had pushed the boundaries of the rule this season, Walters said there was no case to answer.

"I'm happy with it. I am not concerned by it," Walters said at Thursday's NRL grand final press conference in Sydney. 

"Everybody tries to protect their kickers, it is a big part of the game now. We don't have a problem with what they're doing.

"Penrith do it well, that's probably why everyone's whingeing about it. 

"They do it better than anybody else. So that's good. Good on them."

Cleary's kicking game looms as crucial on Sunday, with Penrith desperate to nullify the impact of Broncos fullback Reece Walsh.

Panthers players were first accused of running block plays for Cleary during the 2020 State of Origin series, when then-Maroons coach Wayne Bennett raised the issue with the NRL after game two.

The issue was raised again in the 2021 finals, when Ivan Cleary and Bennett, then in charge at South Sydney, engaged in a war of words.

Isaah Yeo has often been among those pinpointed for using the tactic, but Penrith's co-captain insists there is no issue with his side's play.

"If they were blowing penalties you'd probably say (it was outside the rules)," Yeo said. 

"It's an easy write up and the media is just trying to find something each year. That seems to be the one this year, it's the same as last year.

"It doesn't change our focus, we're just going out there on Sunday to play our best game."

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary also suggested complaints of kick blocking were merely a media fascination.

"I don't know (why it comes up)," he said. 

"Maybe everyone just reads their notes on the previous year and what they spoke about during that week."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.