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I think we can all agree that seeing coaches criticise referees after four incredible games of footy last weekend was not a good look for the game but I also have some sympathy for the emotion attached to losing a game that ends your season.

Both Manly's Trent Barrett and Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan thought they had cause for complaint after getting knocked out and given how thin the line is these days between winning and losing it can be a very tough pill to swallow.

As players, when you're out there and you're putting your body through hell to try and get a victory and you are at the point of exhaustion sometimes you might get a bad call and react to it in the wrong way because you're not thinking clearly.

I'm sure Wayne Bennett would have pulled me into line for having a crack at a referee in my younger days but I just really hated losing and in the heat of the moment sometimes it's really hard to keep those emotions in check.

You can only imagine the heartache they go through as coaches because at the end of their day their job is on the line every time that their team runs out.

There's a lot of work that goes into a season. Even though players might be going off on holidays the coaches will now be starting to work on their preparation for next year so it's a 12-month process they go through and to get a 50/50 call that could have gone either way go against you can be extremely hard to take.

One area that Wayne has always been strong on in his time at the Broncos is making sure that the captain is the only player on the field that talks to the referees.

He doesn't really want anyone trying to talk to them other than the captain because I think that does send a bad message to the rest of the group. If the captain or other players are blowing up it sends a bad message to everyone else that you're under the pump.

It's not something that he would go on about each week but before a big game he might just make the point that the captain is the only person to speak to the referees. I'm sure with all the spotlight around coaches and referees at the moment he'd make a real clear point to let the captain deal with it and not be distracted if a decision does go against you.

In every game there are decisions that the referees have to make in the moment and sometimes they get it right, other times they might get it wrong but you've got 80 minutes to make sure you play the best game you can and make sure that you take it out of the referees' hands.

The refs are human, they're not going to get everything right all the time but if you can take all those factors away, make sure you control the game and you are well disciplined as a football team and don't let any outside influences take that away from you then more often than not you'll finish on the right side of the scoreboard.

As I got older and if I was to become a leader at the club the younger players couldn't see me arguing with referees or things like that because it does send a pretty negative message to the rest of the group.

It can be really hard to separate emotion from the result when so much goes into every game each season but there's no doubt we need to support our match officials and allow them to do the best job that they possibly can.

Final thought

Even though they went down to the Storm I think the most impressive performance of the first weekend of the finals came from the Parramatta Eels. 

Penrith were nice and physical and came out a totally different side to the one who got beat the week before but for the Eels to go down to Melbourne and almost beat the Storm showed to other teams that it can be done. 

If you bash them and put pressure on them they can fold. I've heard Mal and other coaches talk about it, that even though they have got three of the best players in the game you can't respect them on the field, you've got to have that winning mentality and not show them that respect until after the game. 

The problem for teams that will play the Storm next is that they probably got a bit rattled last week and didn't perform the way they wanted to yet still won the game. Things didn't seem to be working like they normally would but I'm sure Craig Bellamy will fix that up and you won't see a performance from them like that again this year.


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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