A fired-up Graham Annesley has come to the defence of NRL referees, saying he can no longer ignore the “rubbish” and “overwhelming” criticism of match officials.
The NRL's head of football used his weekly briefing on Monday to take aim at coaches and commentators who insinuate a team was dudded by a bad call when Annesley says they simply didn't do enough to win.
It follows a weekend of intense scrutiny on the NRL's match officials with several controversial decisions as teams jostle for finals positions.
Anthony Griffin, Josh Hannay and Trent Barrett were among the NRL coaches to criticise calls over the weekend.
And while Annesley says he has no issue with a coach stating their opinion on a decision, he draws the line at the insinuation it affected the result of games.
“Many of these decisions happened at various stages of a game where the team has every opportunity to go on and win the game if they're good enough,” Annesley said.
“But from what I'm seeing over recent weeks while some of this criticism is going on, is that teams have lost games because they haven't been good enough to win them.
“I like to turn a cheek to this stuff and I do it constantly, but sometimes someone has to stand up for the referees as well.
“There's very few people willing to do that. I wouldn't say this if (the NRL) weren't prepared to put our hands up and say when we're wrong, which I've been doing for three years.
“When we do that, we accept responsibility and frankly it's time some other people accepted responsibility for outcomes in games as well.”
To highlight his point, Annesley showed six examples of tackles that went unpunished by the match review committee similar to Nathan Cleary's hit on Jack Bird on Friday night.
Controversy was sparked when Cleary wasn't pinged for a shoulder charge, but Annesley argued the Penrith star was merely bracing for impact.
He also defended the decision to penalise Canterbury hooker Sione Katoa for a high shot that led to a disallowed a try in their loss to the Warriors, and a captain's challenge that resulted in a penalty for the Sydney Roosters to beat Brisbane on fulltime on Friday night.
Annesley said there was too much scrutiny on refereeing decisions and not enough on statistics like missed tackles, errors and linebreaks that have a heavier influence on the outcomes of games.
“Each one of those incidents I would say has a far greater impact on the game than one or two refereeing decisions that might be arguable,” he said.
“I understand everyone is under pressure … but it's got a bit out of control recently.
“We see one incident in a game and the whole post match discussion is about that decision where we completely ignore everything else that has happened in the game.
“Frankly, it's just rubbish and it's not worthy of the people who make those comments.”Internet Explorer Channel Network