Hasler in extraordinary refs blast
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler took an almighty swing at the officiating following his side's 21-14 defeat to South Sydney on Thursday night, describing the referees' performance as "very, very poor" and that some of the decisions were "dumb, dumb, dumb".
Even Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire got in on the act, questioning why the NRL has again allowed captains of defending teams to stop play and discuss penalties with the referees.
But Hasler's was certainly a blow-up for the ages, taking particular exception to a decision to halt play and attend to a concussed Chris McQueen during a critical stage in the second half when the Bulldogs were on their last tackle and holding onto a slender two-point lead.
"When James Graham carried the ball, and collided with the Souths player, it should've been called play on. Or at least, until we kicked the ball and Greg Inglis picks it up and gets tackled, then go and see the injured player," Hasler said.
"Rather than stopping the game, slowing it up, we lose the advantage, they get a two marker set. Little things like that have a huge impact."
When play resumed, halfback Trent Hodkinson's clearing kick went out on the full, handing the Rabbitohs good field position, which they converted into a game-winning try to Lote Tuqiri not long after.
"It was done on the back of referee calling time off for no reason to call time off. He wasn't in the way. He was at the side," Hasler continued.
"One marker, play on. If he's that hurt, wait 'til Greg Inglis gets the ball on the kick return, make that tackle and then fix him up. I didn't see him stopping the game for Reni Maitua when he was on the ground five metres from our line.
"Granted Reni wasn't near the play the ball, but just go one marker. Dumb, dumb, dumb."
Not satisfied with his assault on the whistleblowers, the 11-year coach went lock, stock and barrel on the video referee's inability to check on forward passes after Sam Burgess levelled the scores off what looked to be a dubious pass from Luke Keary minutes into the second half.
"It seems ludicrous that we have the vision, yet we don't have the technology or the referees – it's been explained to me they can't get a hold of the vision or they can't get the vision supplied to them – to be able to adjudicate on a forward pass," he said.
"Sure we scored the odd try from a dubious pass as well, but it's a blight on the game at the moment. I think there was one last week from a pass that went four metres forward."
Even Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire took aim at the officials for allowing Bulldogs skipper Michael Ennis to argue with the referees despite South Sydney being on the attack midway through the first half.
"I hope the game gets itself sorted with captains approaching refs," he said.
"I sat in the coaches meeting at the start of the season and they said the team that doesn't have the ball, you can't approach the ref. I think there was probably a minute taken out of that game with an opposition captain talking to a ref.
"So while we're in control, that actually hurts the attack team because you want to build that momentum. I hope they actually get that sorted out because those sorts of things were meant to be taken out of our game at the start of the year, but sure enough they crept back in."
To which Ennis replied: "I'm not going to comment, if that's how the other department feel, no worries. But look, in the heat of the battle, you certainly have frustrating at times and at times you're not thinking of when you can or you can't talk to a referee."