Head of football Graham Annesley has hit back at criticism from Canberra coach Ricky Stuart while revealing the NRL Bunker may be given the power to overrule incorrect decisions on tries by on-field officials.
Annesley refuted claims by Stuart that the offside ruling for which Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton was sin-binned in Sunday’s match against the Warriors after repeated infringements by his side had been incorrect.
However, he conceded two calls on tries in other games had been wrong.
He also revealed at his weekly football briefing on Monday that video review official Henry Perenara had tried to advise referee Ashley Klein against awarding a try to South Sydney winger Jaxson Paulo last Thursday night after touch judge Phil Henderson gave it the all-clear.
After playing audio in which Perenara could be heard to say, “no, no, no”, after Henderson told Klein, “all good mate, try”, but had not able to press the microphone button before the try was awarded, Annesley said consideration would be given to enable to Bunker to overrule a similar call next season.
“I think that is something very worthy of consideration,” Annesley said.
Paulo awarded try on field
“To make a change like that would be a massive change to the way the game has been officiated in the past but I think that those sorts of things are definitely on the table, and they need to be.
“The objective of technology is to try and get these decisions right, and it is definitely something we will be discussing in the off-season. What such I change would like I don’t know at this point but that may be a way to ensure this sort of error doesn’t get repeated.”
The other incident was a disallowed try to Parramatta winger Blake Ferguson on Sunday after Perenara had ruled a tap-on from Clint Gutherson was a knock-on in his capacity as referee, but the Eels used their captain’s challenge to successfully argue the ball had been knocked back.
Under the current rules, the try could not be awarded to Ferguson as Perenara had blown his whistle to stop play before he could ground the ball.
“Blowing the whistle stops the game, that’s in the laws of the game, so again talking of laws we may have to look at at the end of the of the season this could be another one,” Annesley said.
“I don’t think that anyone would argue that Blake Ferguson would have scored a try.”
Annesley, who had been in the Bunker on Thursday and Friday night to observe changes last week in which a sole video review official now makes calls during each match, said 66 decisions had been referred in round 19, including 42 tries and 12 captains’ challenges.
“There are a lot of decisions that are being made across the course of a weekend and of course they get most of them right,” Annesley said.
'Planets apart': Stuart fumes over ref rulings
He also insisted referee Chris Sutton had made the correct call to sin-bin Wighton during the 28th minute of Sunday’s match against the Warriors, which prompted criticism from Stuart, who was also unhappy about a 7-1 first half penalty count.
Annesley said Wighton's sin-binning was the result of a series of infringements, not solely due to the five-eighth's indiscretion, and he reiterated the Canberra star was marginally offside, by a fraction of a second, when the ball cleared the ruck.
The extra half a step, according to Annesley, that Wighton gained from his split-second goal-line infraction was likely behind the Warriors fumbling of the ball.
Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 19
"He's either onside or he's off - they're the only two options," Annesley said.
Annesley said he had regularly admitted when referees had made a wrong decision but would not hang the officials out to dry if they have made a correct call and would contact Stuart to clear the air.
"I've got nothing to say publicly about Ricky's views," Annesley said. "Ricky and I will talk, and we'll sort that out.
"All I'm interested in is facts, and this was a controversial decision that resulted in a player going to the sin bin."
Stuart vents frustration as Wighton sent to sin bin
He added that referees were under no obligation to warn players to stop giving away penalties before sending them to the bin, saying "it's counter-productive".
"Players then have the opportunity to push the boundaries, knowing that they're not in any danger of going to the sin bin until they get a warning," Annesley said