Enough is enough: NRL must act on ref farce
PHIL Gould, Bob Fulton, Wayne Bennett, Andrew Johns and highly respected rugby league administrator John Quayle have been singled out as the brains trust to fix the NRL's greatest refereeing crisis in years.
Shattered Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has led a passionate call for an NRL summit of the greatest minds in football.
It comes in the wake of referees boss Bernard Sutton phoning Stuart to apologise for two monumental howlers against Cronulla on Friday night.
The refereeing blunders, which will likely cost sideline official Rick McFarlane his first-grade post, have all but ended the Raiders' finals hopes.
It will cost the club the potential of around $200,000 in sponsorship bonuses, merchandise sales and prizemoney, which they would accrue by finishing inside the top eight.
Adamant the season-long controversy surrounding the video bunker and match officials has turned fans away, Stuart said "enough is enough" amid fears the code is at risk of being overtaken by AFL and soccer.
"I've spoken to Todd Greenberg (NRL CEO) for three to four years about doing this,'' Stuart said.
"We won't have a NRL in 15 years time because of what the AFL and soccer doing, if we don't do something about it today.
"Respectfully, we haven't got enough people in the NRL that understand the fabric of our game.
"We're losing too many people because of the interpretation of the way the game is being played.
"We need to get some senior people, like Bob Fulton, like Phil Gould and Andrew Johns.
"Todd Greenberg didn't come out and make that decision about the nitpicking on his own volition. That was purely because Gus and Joey and Peter Sterling, very credible people in the game were sick of it.
"We need to get those people in a room.
"Don't have me in it.
"It's not about me in this - get senior people in there, Bennett and the like.
"This is why I don't go to the coaches meetings. Nothing is ever achieved and on Friday night we saw how disconnected the game is from how it should be officiated.
"The NRL don't like me because I'm opinionated. That's no problem, but get them (brains-trust) in a room and let's get to a situation where we know exactly what we're doing and how we want the game played.''
Fulton, an Immortal of the game, agreed with Stuart, adding that Quayle, a former ARL chief executive, needed to be contacted immediately.
"It is the biggest circus in town, the NRL, and they need to address,'' Fulton said on 2GB.
"Things have got to change.
"Go up to Newcastle and his name is John Quayle. Just go and knock on his door and say 'can you come in and get a few things operating here correctly'.''
Raiders CEO Don Furner was still in total disbelief with the calls that went against his side.
"I don't think in my entire time as CEO that I've had as many text messages as what I did on Friday night,'' Furner said.
"I had sponsors, board members and club members messaging me.
"And do you know what I could say to them, nothing. Because what do I say? How do I explain why the decisions that were made, were made?
"I'm a complete a loss. I can write letters to the NRL but it's not going to change a thing.''
Stuart said he took Sutton's call out of respect for the besieged head of the NRL refereeing department.
Sutton said the video review of a 58th minute Sione Katoa try, after Mcfarlane had raised his flag, and a forward pass call against Michael Oldfield, were incorrect.
"Bernie said the calls were wrong, and he apologised,'' Stuart said.
"What more could he say.
"I actually feel sorry for Bernie because he's making calls that he shouldn't have to make, but he does it because he's under the directive of his superiors.
"We spoke for about 10 minutes but in reality, it doesn't change a thing.
"The game needs to seriously work out how we all get back on the same page.''