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Annesley, NRL rivals take no issue with Walker's backwards tactic

Some fans loved it, others felt it was disrespectful, but NRL head of football Graham Annesley had no problems with Sam Walker's "unusual" last-minute run-backward tactic.

The talented 19-year-old Roosters halfback polarised opinion when, with 20 seconds to go in Saturday's game against the Bulldogs, he ran 80-odd metres towards his goal line to secure a 22-16 win.

Walker told Fox League after the match he didn't want to "take a field goal and give [Canterbury] another chance with the footy", while Roosters coach Trent Robinson called the youngster "smart".

There's been debate as to whether the play was unsportsmanlike, but Annesley said Walker was well within his rights to do it.

"What Sam Walker did was certainly unusual, but it did not breach any rules," Annesley said on Monday.

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"I wouldn't regard it as a significant problem in our game and it is certainly not a regular occurrence. The set of circumstances which allowed that to take place would rarely happen.

"There are also multiple ways a player could attempt to use up the last few seconds, including deliberately kicking the ball out. As a result there are no plans at this stage to make any changes to the rules to disallow those particular actions."

Walker wasn't the first to execute the bold strategy.

In 1998, Kiwi international Tony Iro ran backwards and across-field to wind down the clock and ensure his Adelaide Rams held on to beat St George.

"I think he outdid me. He ran twice as fast and twice as far," Iro said of Walker's effort.

"When you start on that little journey [running backwards] the time seems to take forever. When I did it Dean Lance was my coach and he called me into the room. I thought he was going to give me a bollocking but he gave me a bit of a rap.

"He said, 'We needed that, it was a smart thing to do'. All of my teammates were taking the piss but as long as the coach thought it was okay I didn't care.

"We were on the back of a six or seven-game losing streak and I think Saints were first or second. There was about 40 seconds to go and I thought, I didn’t just want to give them back the ball.

"We were rank outsiders and they had a decent side, so I thought if they get a set of six on us I didn't know if we were up to defending it to be fair.

"It took 20 years but it is catching on."

Meanwhile, Broncos playmaker Brodie Croft said the most important detail of Walker's play was that it guaranteed victory.

Sam Walker and the most unorthodox end to a game we have seen for a while

"I think everyone is entitled to their opinion. At the end of the day, the Roosters won the game and that clocked off the time as well," Croft said.

"Everyone can think what they want but if you are winning football games I can't see why you can be complaining too much."

Cowboys five-eighth Scott Drinkwater, whose team will face Walker and the Roosters this Saturday, shared a similar sentiment.

"He ran the clock down and they didn't have to make another tackle so he probably did his forward pack a world of good," Drinkwater said.

"They didn't have to make a couple more tackles with 20 seconds to go. He did it his own way, I'm not going to criticise anyone, he got the job done."

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Robinson showed little emotion when cameras panned to him in the Bankwest Stadium coach's box as Walker eventually stepped over the sideline to end the match.

However, he later praised the rookie No.7's game awareness.

"Sammy, he's smart. He knows the time on the clock, and he knows all of that," Robinson said.

"It's a different play and I think everybody will have their opinion on it. I think it's great learning from Sammy about knowing how to manage everything.

"It's smart to manage the clock, but it goes against, I guess, what some purists would say [is] 'owning the game'. But you know, he took the risk out of the last play and finished the game off."

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