Thurston urges respect for league refs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston urges respect for league refs

By David Beniuk 03/06/2010 08:18:17 PM Comments (0)

Johnathan Thurston has pleaded with the rugby league world not to use his emotional outburst at an NRL referee as an excuse for aggression against the officials.

Thurston was cleared of a charge of bringing the game into disrepute on Wednesday night, despite an expletive-laden tirade at referee Jason Robinson in the final minute of last Saturday's narrow loss to Manly in Townsville.

The judiciary's decision provoked an angry response on Thursday with questions about why he was hit with a detrimental conduct charge rather than the more routine contrary conduct.

It also forced NRL match review committee chairman Greg McCallum to warn players they still risked being charged despite the case being thrown out.

Thurston issued a statement late on Thursday stopping short of an apology but imploring players at all levels to treat referees with respect.

"I'm not happy with what I saw when I looked back at the tape of me addressing the referee," the statement read.

"It was an emotional situation, though, that got a little out of hand and if I had my chance again of course I would have handled things differently.

"I certainly don't want people to think that I am encouraging anyone to blow up at the referee.

"The refs deserve respect in any game and I respect the job they are trying to do.

"I have no hard feelings towards Jason or any of the officials and (would) be really upset if people took this as an excuse to be aggressive towards the referee in the future."

Warriors forward Micheal Luck provided one of the frankest views on the judiciary decision, telling a New Zealand radio station: "I can't believe they let him off.

"It's set a pretty dangerous precedent now that anyone who sprays the ref can go back to that incident and say 'well, Thurston didn't even get penalised, why am I at the judiciary?'

"Any other player on the field that night, or any team, would have been at least penalised.

"This weekend I'd hate to be a junior ref, to see what's going to happen.

"It's set a precedent and the NRL must be just rolling their eyes that the judiciary panel let him off."

The league on Wednesday night reminded referees of their primary role in handling on-field dissent, but match review committee boss Greg McCallum warned players they could still expect to be charged for similar outbursts.

"Someone has to make a decision on what's acceptable and not," McCallum told Sky Sports Radio.

"On Monday when we listened to the audio and watched the vision, we didn't think it was acceptable.

"The warning is still there, particularly from the match review committee, that if you swear and it's prolonged swearing and it's directed at the referee then we'll take action."

McCallum defended the detrimental conduct charge.

"We felt that the language that was used by Johnathan was prolonged and the prolonged action of challenging the referee over a period of time was detrimental to the image of the game," he said.

Canterbury coach Kevin Moore said he didn't expect a backlash from referees this weekend.

"I think the best way it could have been handled is on the field at the time and if that had happened we wouldn't be talking about it," Moore said.

NRL referees boss Robert Finch did not return AAP's calls.

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