NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg has described the Australian Rugby League Commission-approved Central Command Centre – the much-anticipated video referee 'bunker' – as an "investment for the fans".
Speaking at Rugby League Central on Friday, Greenberg said the new centre would improve the accuracy, efficiency, consistency and transparency of video referee decisions next season.
An Australian first initiative, the approval of the central command centre ends 12 months of planning, with referees now able to access multiple camera angles, zoom technology and playback control for all reviewable decisions for the 2016 season.
"First and foremost, fans won't have to sit around and wait as long as they currently do to get a yes or no decision on a try. So the efficiency of the process will improve significantly," Greenberg said.
"We think we can get to less than 40 seconds every time we review a decision, which is a marked improve of what we're currently doing. Clearly we also want to get them right so we want to make sure our accuracy levels improve and importantly we want to be transparent in this process.
"We want to make sure they're part of that process – they can hear it and they'll be able to see it. We want to make the people who make the decisions accountable.
"It's a significant step forward. A game-changer for rugby league in this country. It's a big part of the evolution of the game to continue to give our match officials and referees all the tools and technology to make sure they can make great decisions."
Greenberg was adamant the referee process will not change when referring potential tries to the bunker and two on-field referees will remain.
However with the central command centre there is now the potential for features like a captain's challenge – which is currently utilised in Holden Cup – to be introduced in the NRL.
"It's important to note that referees are paid to make decisions and that won't change. We won't be micromanaging the game. But we are looking to make our decisions, get them right and get it done quicker," Greenberg said.
"This has nothing to do with speeding up the game, it's about making it continuous. We understand what business we're in, we're in the entertainment business and we have to continue to make sure the ball's in play and we have a product that fans genuinely want to engage with.
"A reduction of interchange, coupled with timing controls or a shot clock, is now aligned with our video review process. These three attributes will keep the game more continuous. We want to ensure fatigue plays a part in the modern game and clearly those three decisions are aimed and designed to do that."