South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has backed the trial of a captain’s challenge in the club’s traditional Charity Shield clash with St George Illawarra on February 29 at Mudgee.
The ARLC last week endorsed the introduction of a captain’s challenge this season if trials of the concept are successful in the February 22 All Stars match and the Charity Shield a week later.
Details are yet to be finalised but it is expected that the skipper of each team will have 10 seconds to ask for a decision resulting in a stoppage in the game to be reviewed.
If the referee’s call is upheld, the team making the referral forfeits the right to any further challenges in the match.
However, if a ruling is overturned that team retains their challenge.
“I am fine with it,” Bennett said. “They only have one challenge. They are when the game has stopped and that makes sense. Also, they are trialling it so we can all have a look and we will all be wiser.”
Dragons coach Paul McGregor said he was planning to meet with NRL referee's boss Bernard Sutton the week leading into the Charity Shield pre-season fixture to gain clarity around how the captain's challenge would work.
The NRL announced plans to introduce the captain’s challenge late last year and officials have been working to ensure it is not manipulated for tactical advantage or leads to the ball being in play for less time per match.
Challenges can only be made when play has come to a halt, such as at a scrum, penalty, handover of possession, 20 metre re-start or goal-line drop out.
Forward passes cannot be challenged and if the on-field referee rules play-on, such as after a strip or knock-on in which the opposition gains possession, the defending team cannot ask for the incident to be reviewed.
NRL officials are yet to announce whether captains would be allowed 10 or 15 seconds to challenge a refereeing decision but Dragons forward Tyson Frizell said it was important that the reviews didn’t slow the game.
“I guess it is probably good for us as players but I don’t know how the fans will react to it,” Frizell said. “With a crucial call you want that but it has got to happen quick.
“We don’t want people to start complaining about stoppages and stuff like that because a couple of years ago when they were going to the video referee about a lot of things it people were complaining about the flow of the game.”