Minor premiers Canterbury offered their own solutions to the refereeing crisis gripping the NRL finals as the two men responsible for the latest gaffe paid the ultimate price on Tuesday.
Video referees Steve Clark and Paul Simpkins were both dumped for this weekend’s preliminary finals after incorrectly awarding a crucial try to Manly in their win over North Queensland on Friday night.
The latest in a long line of blunders from the officials in the box – it prompted the Bulldogs to take time out from their preparations for Saturday night’s blockbuster against South Sydney to offer up possible cures.
Coach Des Hasler wants the on-field officials to be the video reviewers as is the case in the NFL, while skipper Michael Ennis wants referees co-coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper to take up the hot seat in the box.
“The buck seems to be stopping with Bill and Stuart Raper, so maybe it mightn’t be a bad idea if one of those guys were in the box with the video ref on Friday and Saturday night,” Ennis said.
“I’m sure the NRL have a budget there that could fly them down to Melbourne and back to Sydney on Saturday.”
Ennis downplayed fears a refereeing error could end his side’s season.
The Cowboys trailed just 16-12 before the Michael Oldfield try off the back of a knock-on from Kieran Foran.
“You’ve got to be good enough throughout the whole contest, through the 80 minutes, to try and eliminate whether an error from a referee or from your own team can crucify you,” Ennis said.
“There’s a lot of scrutiny on the refs at the moment and they’re doing the best they can.
“The hard thing for them is there are so many areas that just aren’t black and white – it does come down to opinion and it shouldn’t come down to that.”
Ever the one to think outside the box, Hasler wanted the video referees abolished in favour of the on-field referees utilising a replay screen on the sideline.
It is a system used in the NFL, Hasler adamant the disruption to the game would be minimal.
The two-time premiership-winning coach said he approached former NRL chief executive David Gallop and then chief operating officer Graham Annesley about the idea several years ago – with cost the prohibitive factor in its rejection.
“If we keep the video referee, then the only ones judging the video referee should be the (on-field) referees,” Hasler said.
“Somehow we’ve got to set up the vision on the sideline for the two referees to go and look at the vision themselves. Let them make the call.
“They’re exposed to it the most, they’re there in the moment, they do all the work during the week.
“That also removes all benefit of the doubt and it’s up to them.
“If they get it wrong, they get it wrong and we move on.
“You see it happening in the NFL and it works really well, we won’t waste any more time than what we’re doing at the moment with the normal video referee and they’ve got a better feel for it.”
Hasler also said that in his conversations with referees, the concept had received plenty of support.