NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg.

Greenberg tells refs to find right balance after penalty crackdown

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has conceded referees have tended to nitpick this season and wants them to find the right balance in the flow of the game.

Greenberg backed the referees for their tougher interpretations of the rules this year but said tweaks were needed to ensure fans were not turned off by too many penalties.

"I wouldn't say we're going to soften, we're absolutely on the right path," he said.

"There has been a tendency for referees to continue to nitpick so we have to find the balance. I am desperately keen to make sure we find that balance.

"I don't want referees looking for penalties, I want them to continue to police those areas... I would like to see referees find the balance more often, not look for penalties and adjudicate accordingly.

"When you make change it takes time, the greater resistance you feel the greater change you're making.
The play-the-ball and lack of ability for players to make a genuine attempt to play the ball was something that was not good last year.

"Yes there's some difficult games, at times I've seen some over-officiating, that doesn't please me but we have to find the balance."

The ARL Commission has endorsed a recommendation from the NRL's Competition Committee to sin bin players for serious instances of foul play – even if the victim is able to continue playing.

"Until now, the rules did not allow referees to use the sin bin for foul play unless the victim of foul play was forced to leave the field and was unlikely to take any further part of the game," ARL chairman Peter Beattie said.

"So we have seen players commit acts of foul play, put on report but miss no game time.

"We don't think that is an adequate deterrent so, from Round 15 onwards, referees will be able to use the sin bin for foul play whether the victim has to leave the field or not."

Greenberg also said he would remain in the job for the long haul in light of links to him potentially replacing James Sutherland as the boss of Cricket Australia.

"I've made some commitments to the commission and I'll be here," he said.

"I haven't put a time frame on it, there's a lot of work to do. I'm fully committed to my role here, I've made commitments to Peter and the commission which I will see through."

Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie held a media conference on Tuesday morning to announce NRL clubs will get salary cap relief if a star player suffers a long-term injury in a Test or State of Origin.

As revealed by NRL.com last month, the plan, which received final approval at the ARLC meeting last week, will enable clubs to spend up to $350,000 to replace a player ruled out for a minimum of 12 matches because of an injury suffered in a representative fixture.