NRL clubs have been asked to provide feedback on the effect two referees are having on games this season but a survey of coaches yesterday indicated that there was little support for Ricky Stuart’s call to scrap the system.
NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said speculation the dual refereeing model was due to come under review after the completion of this weekend’s round of matches was incorrect but revealed that clubs had been asked to provide feedback at tomorrow’s CEOs conference.
"It’s just the first time we’ve had the clubs together since the competition started so I wrote to the clubs and asked them to talk to their coaching staffs about it," Annesley said. "But we’re not anticipating any major changes and I don’t expect much to come out of that in effect to there being an immediate change to things."
The success of the dual refereeing system was bought into question by Stuart after his Cronulla side slumped to their sixth successive loss, against South Sydney on Friday night, and in his Sunday newspaper column he called for the NRL to revert to a single whistleblower.
But a straw poll of coaches conducted by the Herald yesterday found few others agreed with Stuart. Of the seven rival coaches to respond, only Parramatta’s Daniel Anderson thought consideration should be given to scrapping the system.
"Not yet, but there are some bumps," he said. "The bumps are still there with one referee."
However, Penrith’s Matthew Elliott, South Sydney’s Jason Taylor, Newcastle’s Brian Smith and the Warriors’ Ivan Cleary all offered strong backing for the system, while Roosters mentor Brad Fittler said he supported it "but in a different format".
Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore said he was "concerned about the experience of individual referees, but hopefully that will improve in time".
Annesley agreed, saying: "If we fast forward to this time next year when they’ve all got a full season under their belt, we might find that we’ve suddenly got 16 top referees as opposed to eight.
"But it wouldn’t matter if we had one, two or 10 referees in a game – there is still going to be complaints about performances and there is still going to be controversy around refereeing decisions. However, having two referees is an attempt to reduce the number of errors that are made in games, just as the introduction of the video referee was. But anyone who thinks it is going to eliminate mistakes or eliminate controversy is kidding themselves."
Tigers coach Tim Sheens believes the NRL should have trialled the two refereeing system in the under-20s competition but is not opposed to the concept.
Meanwhile, Cronulla captain Paul Gallen and Parramatta’s Nathan Hindmarsh are expected to be charged by the match review committee today over incidents in Friday night’s games. Both face suspension.
Eels star Jarryd Hayne will also come under scrutiny for two high shots on Brisbane centre Steve Michaels in the 40-8 loss at Suncorp Stadium.
With his poor judiciary record, Gallen is likely to have to successfully challenge any charge arising from his high shot on Rabbitohs utility Craig Wing in the Sharks’ loss to be eligible for the Australian team to play New Zealand in Brisbane on May 8.
Hindmarsh also has loading and 68 carryover points that will impact on his likely dangerous conduct charge after striking Broncos captain Darren Lockyer in the head with his foot while trying to stop a try.