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Official View: Player welfare

Stuart Raper and Nathan McGuirk NRL.com Mon, Jul 09, 2012 - 5:00 PM

Newcastle's Kyle O'Donell is hit in a heavy tackle at the weekend. Copyright: NRL Photos

Referees co-coach Stuart Raper answers questions from fans about a try awarded to Wests Tigers’ Beau Ryan in Round 18, while NRL Football Operations General Manager Nathan McGuirk answers your questions on player safety.

Do you agree with the decision to award Beau Ryan a try for the Wests Tigers against the Bulldogs in the 38th minute that came off a Benji Marshall kick?

Stuart Raper: Yes I agree with this decision. Firstly, there is no problem with the offside as Ryan is behind Marshall when he kicks the ball in-field. Ryan then attempts to grab the ball with his right hand and knocks it backwards, he then pulls the ball back with his left hand and grounds the ball correctly. The video referee made the right call.

The NRL’s General Manager of Football Operations Nathan McGuirk answers your questions about player safety.

What is your response to Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett’s remarks about player safety following the hit on Kyle O’Donell from Sam Burgess?

Nathan McGuirk: As the Knights point out our number one focus is player welfare and we can certainly understand the club’s concern over what was a serious injury.

In this case play was stopped within 10 seconds so the referee was clearly concerned for the player’s welfare.

Referees are very aware that they are authorised to immediately cease play in the event of serious injury.

Whenever there are incidents that we can learn from we will. After this weekend we certainly have some concern over the time taken in halting play for Lote Tuqiri in the Wests Tigers game. The Tigers officials followed the correct protocols to have play stopped earlier.

In the Newcastle case everything happened much more quickly. The officials were aware of a problem but not of its seriousness in the split second they had to determine if play went on.

It is a stark reminder to referees to use their judgment in these situations but I don’t think we can criticise them too much in this case.