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'Criticism doesn't match up to reality': Annesley goes into bat for Bunker

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has defended the Bunker after an "avalanche" of hyperbolic criticism.

While willing to admit when the Bunker has erred - as he did in saying Henry Perenara made the wrong call not to send off Latrell Mitchell on Friday night - Annesley is tired of exaggerated outrage over officiating.

"I'm perfectly fine if people say, 'I don't agree, I don't think that was a try'. It's just some of the descriptors around this stuff," he said.

"I'm not talking necessarily about coaches or anyone in particular, but words are bandied around like 'farcical' and 'ridiculous'. It's just not right. It's just so out of whack with what you actually see.

"That's the whole purpose of these [weekly media] briefings - it's really to say, 'Yeah, we got some things wrong'.

Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 24

"And it's also to say, 'Well, maybe people have gone off a bit half-cocked in some cases', and to put some balance back into it."

After the controversial Roosters-Rabbitohs match, in which Mitchell was sin-binned for a high shot on Joey Manu, Fox League pundit Michael Ennis called for Annesley to "get in the Bunker".

But Annesley said it's nowhere near that simple because the complex role of video officials encompasses much more than advising the on-field referee about which course of action to take.

Episode 27 - Latrell fallout, Morris retires and Rapana on finals push

"They're also monitoring audio, they're in some cases talking to directors, they're looking at multiple feeds of vision, they're instructing operators to give them multiple feeds," Annesley said.

"It is a specialised role and whether it's me or it's anyone else, you can't just drag someone in off the street and drop them in that role.

"Because, A, the person that you drop in there wouldn't be qualified to undertake all those tasks - wouldn't know where to start.

"And, secondly, there's no guarantee that no matter who you put in that position they won't make errors of judgement either.

"There's no one on the planet that you could put in that role and say, "Well, this person will get every decision right in hindsight'."

The outcry over a particular pair of incidents, both in Sunday's Sea Eagles-Bulldogs clash, earned Annesley's ire.

The first was Canterbury forward Joe Stimson being penalised for pulling the hair of Manly enforcer Martin Taupau.

Bunker confirms try to Turbo despite amazing effort from Hetherington

Annesley noted that five charges have been laid for hair-pulling this season - though Stimson wasn't cited by the match review committee - and said it was an obvious call for whistleblower Chris Sutton.

"Judging by some of the comment that's been offered - and I'm not just talking about the [Bulldogs] club, but some of the general comment - you would have thought this was the most outrageous decision that's been made in the history of the game," Annesley said.

Bulldogs: Round 24

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"The referee sees a player with a handful of hair and he makes an immediate decision to respond to that. And that's perfectly valid - there's nothing wrong with that. It's there for everyone to see."

Annesley was also displeased with some zealous commentary claiming the Bunker overlooked a knock-on after Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic was awarded a game-changing try.

However, Annesley was adamant Trbojevic maintained possession, swapping from his right to left arm before he "effectively rolls the ball down his leg with his fingers on the ball" to ground it.

"This has been turned into publicly the worst decision ever made by a referee, or Bunker, in this case, to confirm that as a try," he said.

"The criticism doesn't match up to the reality."

Get Caught Up: Round 24 must-see moments

A week out from the finals, Annesley harbours concerns about players milking penalties in a range of situations.

"That's why we've got to be careful that we don't change policies on the run, for example, around any other type of offence where if a player appears to be injured we take stronger action than in a similar type of incident where a player gets up and plays the ball," he said.

"You have to be careful that you don't set up a scenario that encourages milking, encourages players to stay down.

"Call it gamesmanship, whatever you want to call it, but we're always concerned about that and we're always monitoring for that."

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