NRL open to video ref change after touchie howler
NRL head of football Graham Annesley concedes it is time to reconsider using the video ref to rule on controversial forward pass calls, but it is unlikely to happen this season.
And in the wake of the match-defining decision that robbed Manly victory, Annesley also backed touch judge Liam Kennedy to keep his job for next week, saying he did not deserve to be "castigated or relegated".
Annesley was quick to come out and admit the forward pass call on Tom Trbojevic was wrong on Saturday night.
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But that is not to say the touchie should be hung out to dry.
"I would definitely back him," Annesley told The Daily Telegraph.
"While he has made an error of judgment it is not because of any incompetence or anything like that.
"He has made an error of judgment. We all do that in our lives every day.
"The thing in his favour is that the ball did travel forward across the ground, there is no question that it drifted forward.
"And it is always exasperated when the player who gets tackled kind of stops immediately.
"I can understand why the touch judge did get it wrong. And that is why I don't think he should be castigated or relegated or anything for it.
"It was an unfortunate error of judgment and hopefully we won't see it again in the near future."
It is a credit to the NRL and Annesley in particular that they were quick to concede the mistake.
But the bigger issue now is what can be done to fix a problem that has been going on since the game was born.
There has been huge debate for years about the fact the NRL would not use the video ref to rule on forward passes.
It was used way back in 2001 and Annesley said it probably caused more problems than it solved at the time.
"I have always been open to the idea," Annesley said.
"When we did it last time it was all right for the obvious ones but then there was as whole bunch of marginal ones that were being referred to the video ref and the decisions were causing more controversy than the passes themselves."
But the technology now is vastly improved.
Fox Sports use a roving sideline camera that provided the perfect camera angle to determine the ball came out of Trbojevic's hands backwards, which is what the rule stipulates.
The rule states that even if the ball travels forward, if it comes out of the hands backwards it is not a forward pass, which was the case with Trbojevic.
However that roving Fox camera only runs down one side of the field and Annesley said it may require a significant investment that right now is an issue in itself.
Asked if it could happen this season, he said: "I would think it unlikely given we made the changes we made because of the break we had.
"You wouldn't normally make changes from one week until the next. So I think if it was going to be considered it would be part of an end of season review.
"Whilst last night was an obvious one ... there will be many more that aren't so obvious and will put us in the same position.
"I think it is possible with the right technology.
"But that would probably require an investment from the game. And as you know, given what we have been through, finances aren't great at the moment. It is something we would have to do a whole business case on to be honest."
Meanwhile, Des Hasler also expressed concerns about the lack of consistency from the match officials throughout the match.
Annesley said: "The issue about inconsistency doesn't only apply to the six again. The same thing applied last year when it was just penalties.
"We would have coaches saying 'why didn't we get a penalty in the ruck when there was a similar ruck when we got penalised?'
"The same applies to the rulings on the 10 metres … discretion is part of how our game is controlled.
"If there was no discretion involved we would effectively be a game like rugby union where you would have stoppages for literally everything.
"Our game is about continuity and that requires discretion."
Originally published as NRL open to video ref change after touchie howler