Referees co-coach Bill Harrigan looks at State of Origin II and how the game will be officiated.
Will State of Origin be different with the new referees?
Heading into the opening game of the Harvey Norman State of Origin Series, I did not speak to either camp before the match. Neither of the coaches asked for any explanations or clarification on rules or how the game would be refereed. I spoke to the two referees before the game at Suncorp Stadium and said simply, ‘Just stick to the guidelines of 2011.’
I thought after watching game one that we could have policed the rucks a little better.
For game two I have sent some examples to both coaches of the ruck from the first 20 minutes of the first match, which I said was unacceptable.
If that was to happen again on Wednesday night, I expect the referees to act on it.
The message to the two referees is to officiate as per the guidelines they have been refereeing to all year. If a player does something to impact on the speed of the play-the-ball and it warrants a penalty, they should give it.
Both Ricky Stuart and Mal Meninga have said they are happy with that.
The referees will not be going out there to blow penalties. We are putting the onus on the players to make the tackles and get out of there, then the referees won’t need to penalise them.
We are not changing the goal posts or anything like that; the ruck speed was a little slow in game one, and the referees will be working with the players in game two to ensure the speed of the ruck is quicker.
What did you make of the forward passes in the Titans v Dragons game?
Co-coach Stuart Raper has already touched on the forward passes over the weekend, and we have acknowledged that there was an error made in the Titans game.
Scott Prince’s pass to Mark Minichiello was called forward and it shouldn’t have been. Raper also looked at the other ‘forward' call, and after reviewing the game he said it was a tight call, but was happy to go with the official, who was in the best position to make the call.
It is important to remember that when we see a forward pass on television, we are seeing it from the camera angle we are given, which is in a fixed position and rarely in line with the ball.
The cameras are not in the position of a touch judge, who is standing directly in line with the pass. There is a reason we don’t allow video refs to call on forward passes as you get a distorted view.
We have had a concern about forward passes around the ruck for the last few years, so this year, with our return to basics policy, we have moved the touch judges to be in line with the ruck. Last season, the touch judges were back on the 10 metre-line looking at the offside. We have moved them to the ruck so we can watch any forward passes out of dummy-half, and this year we have detected more of those.
We might not get all of them, but we have definitely seen an increase in detected forward passes from the ruck.
The touch judges also move with the play and it allows them to call on passes we may not have got last year. The benefit is that we have touch judges in a better position to make the calls. At home we are relying on camera angles that can make passes look better or worse than they actually are.
As I have said all year, we want our officials to make the calls, because they are in the best position.