Second NRL ref 'provides another angle' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Second NRL ref 'provides another angle'

By Steve Jancetic 28/01/2009 09:07:34 PM Comments (0)

It's been trumpeted as one of the biggest changes in the game's history, but referees boss Robert Finch is hoping NRL fans don't even notice the second whistleblower this season.

Two referees will be used in regular season matches for the first time in 2009, a three-fold initiative aimed at cleaning up the ruck, reducing the impact of the video referee and taking some of the heat off the officials.

Coaches from every NRL club except Brisbane - who turned down the invitation - attended a briefing in Sydney on Wednesday where they were taken through the intricacies of the two-referee system.

In essence the game will continue to be controlled by the referee standing in the defensive line, with the `pocket referee' standing in behind the attacking line before moving in closer to the ruck while a tackle is being completed.

The pocket referee won't have the power to blow his whistle, his role instead being to tip the main referee as to any illegalities in the tackle.

The two referees will alternate roles during the match, with the more senior official to dominate the role of main referee.

"The normal referee that's been in that position for 100 years, he remains the person that makes the decision - the assist referee provides exactly that, assistance to the referee," Finch said.

"We (couldn't) keep going down this path of one referee with the modern demands of the game - it alleviated the physical demands, and it provides another angle for the referees to adjudicate on ruck issues.

"I think that you'll find that the game will speed up a tad, especially on turnovers of possession where we already have a referee in position."

Finch said the general consensus amongst the coaches was that this would be a positive move for the game, though he admitted premiership-winning Manly coach Des Hasler remained unconvinced.

Hasler has been a vocal opponent of the system ever since his Sea Eagles got touched-up by Melbourne in a trial match last year where two referees were used.

New Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore had no such concerns, claiming he didn't even know that the system had been used during a game he was involved in during last year's pre-season.

"I suppose the less we notice the change the better," Moore said.

"I hope that it just clears the ruck up a little bit and just get those strips right and we don't have to go to the video when we go to a scrum, I think everyone was a little bit unhappy with that last year."

Finch admitted the biggest concern surrounding the pocket referee was the possibility he could get in the way of the attacking team.

"One of the major objectives is to stay out of the way," Finch said.

"Referees have probably been getting in the way for 100 years and it may happen occasionally, but we're really confident that this model will allow that not to happen."

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