NRL defends its judicial system - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL defends its judicial system

By Liam FitzGibbon 21/08/2008 05:42:47 PM Comments (0)

Canberra chief executive Don Furner has backed down from his fiery outburst as the NRL defended its judicial system against claims of inconsistency.

Furner was furious on Wednesday night after Raiders forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs was suspended for the rest of the season after failing to have his dangerous throw charge downgraded from a grade four to a three.

The Raiders boss said there was no consistency in the grading of tackles, after the judiciary panel had been shown several examples of lower-grade tackles which he believed were equally as bad or worse than Learoyd-Lahrs'.

He also sensationally claimed Learoyd-Lahrs was not given a fair hearing, prompting the NRL to contact him on Thursday morning.

"Don's comments at the time raised questions and we sought clarification as to what he meant by `unfair' after the hearing," NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said on Thursday.

"He said he regretted the choice of words and as much as he may disagree with the decision, he did not intend any suggestion of bias or lack of procedure by the panel, the judiciary chairman, or the judiciary staff.

"He has apologised if that suggestion has been taken and his apology has been forwarded to the judiciary."

Annesley said Furner had sailed very close to the wind with his comments but his apology had been accepted and he would not be fined.

Furner is not the first chief executive to voice concerns about the consistency of the league's judicial system this year.

Earlier this month, Brisbane boss Bruno Cullen was furious after Justin Hodges was suspended for two matches for making a rude gesture towards referee Tony Archer.

Cullen was incensed at the decision after Cronulla captain Paul Gallen and Melbourne forward Michael Crocker had both avoided charges in previous weeks following incidents involving referees.

But Annesley defended the long-running system, saying great care was taken in achieving consistency in gradings.

"Their role is to be as consistent as they possibly can and I know they spend hours and hours each week reviewing incidents and comparing them to previous incidents to try and ensure that they are consistent," Annesley said of the NRL's match review panel.

"But the fact is, each case has its own particular features and no two cases are ever completely alike and then it becomes a matter of judgement."

Annesley said the NRL did not have a problem with criticism aimed at the decisions of referees and the judiciary.

"But you always draw the line at any suggestion they're being less than professional and honest in the way they carry out their duties," he said.

Meanwhile, Parramatta star Eric Grothe is reportedly set to leave the club after being told he is free to negotiate with other clubs.

The Eels are apparently prepared to let go of the big winger despite signing him to a three-year deal just twelve months ago.

However, Grothe's manager Andrew Purcell denied the reports when contacted by AAP, saying the NSW winger was happy at the Eels and wanted to stay.

In other news, North Queensland have signed Melbourne forward Antonio Kaufusi to a three-year deal starting next season after he was allowed by the Storm to negotiate elsewhere because of salary cap restrictions.

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