The match review committee has lost its way, says Paul Kent
The match review committee has lost its way, says Paul Kent

Kent: Is consistency too much to ask for?

In case anybody is still in doubt, Jake Trbojevic is a good bloke.

Mick Ennis said it Sunday night: "I know he's a great bloke …"

Moses Mbye said it as well, but not just about Jake: "There was no malice in what Jake did, he is a good bloke, and Mick's a good bloke too …"

The conversation had begun with James Hooper, his shiny dome gleaming, opening the talks into Trbojevic's dangerous tackle with, "One of the good guys of the game …"

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Was Trbojevic given leniency because he’s liked? Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images
Was Trbojevic given leniency because he’s liked? Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

 

Finally it took Yvonne Sampson, host of Fox League's Big League Wrap, to ask: "Why are we saying that? It doesn't matter."

Still, because of Trbojevic's light sentence it begs the next question; Is Nick Cotric a good bloke?

While the Big League Wrap was defending Trbojevic's character at the same time wondering at the leniency of his charge, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was arguing for the opposite, declaring Trbojevic's tackle was nothing but an accident, just like Cotric three weeks ago.

That even accidents can be dangerous seemed irrelevant.

Cotric up-ended Tim Lafai in a tackle that the layman's eye would say was almost identical to Trbojevic's tackle on Jahrome Hughes last Saturday.

Yet Cotric was charged with a grade three dangerous tackle that he discounted down to a three-game suspension with an early plea.

 

Was the Manly star’s tackle that different from Cotric’s? Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images
Was the Manly star’s tackle that different from Cotric’s? Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

 

 

Trobjevic, the good bloke, got a grade one dangerous tackle charge that allows him to play Saturday after an early plea.

Trbojevic is so vital to Manly the match review committee's decision could have season-changing impacts on Manly (in fifth spot, fighting for a top-four position), or their opponents Newcastle (in ninth place, fighting to make the top eight), this weekend.

Not that anyone at headquarters bothers with that.

Somewhere in the middle Issac Luke got a grade two, and it was hard to tell whether it was more than Cotric or less than Trbojevic. As Hooper said: "The answer is a pineapple."

The match review committee has lost its way. They see the trees, not the forest.

 

Cotric suffered much greater outrage. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Cotric suffered much greater outrage. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

 

While the nuances of their decisions could no doubt be argued the confusion and apparent inconsistency, with no explanation, are damaging public faith.

Not that the Warriors don't have their problems.

They lost the game, apparently, because Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's match-winning pass was called back for being forward.

It was close.

The call was clearly in response to the season beginning with some arguing too many forward passes were being let go. The NRL listened, that's what they do, and forward passes began being called back. The past weekend there must have been a dozen.

And it was all good until there was a lineball pass with which some didn't agree.

Suddenly, the argument shifted. Where was the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team?

 

By what criteria was RTS’s pass judged? Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images
By what criteria was RTS’s pass judged? Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images

 

The shifting argument is what the game can't seem to grasp.

The game is a pendulum. We swing all the one way, don't like what we see, and then swing all the way back. The pendulum never seems able to rest near the middle.

Where in the rules does it say benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking team?

The referee believed it went forward. He called it.

No benefit of the doubt was needed.

Instead of standing strong, though, the NRL is now considering the ridiculous idea of employing Hawk-Eye technology for forward passes.

 

Referee Chris Sutton has been axed for his bad call. Photo: Phil Hillyard
Referee Chris Sutton has been axed for his bad call. Photo: Phil Hillyard

 

In a strong field of dumb ideas this might be the dumbest ever yet mentioned. It is pure physics that a player can run forward, pass the ball backwards, and momentum will carry the ball forward, which is what Hawk-Eye will adjudicate now as a forward pass.

Technical interference will now bring perfectly legal passes undone.

When will someone at headquarters realise one of rugby league's great advantages was its simplicity. Not even diehard rugby union fans can explain some decisions on the field, a problem league never had.

One of soccer's great strength is its simplicity. The hardest rule to comprehend in soccer, the offside rule, is easy to understand.

 

The Eels-Warriors clash was dominated by controversy. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images
The Eels-Warriors clash was dominated by controversy. Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images

 

Unfortunately the NRL is moving more towards union than soccer. Layers of complicated rules and interpretations.

The game wanted dangerous tackles out of the game. A few tough decisions and now they're accidents.

Players began exploiting the rules with slowing tactics and liberate penalties, so the sin bin was encouraged to make players behave. A few get sent, we argue the penalties are too tough.

We needed more contested possessions in the game, so the stripping rule was adjusted.

Until a couple of wrong calls on the weekend and now Steve Kearney, the Warriors coach, wants it gone.

"The strip, get rid of it, if you can't make a decision on it, just piss it off."

There was a decision, the refs just got it wrong.

 

James Maloney gets told off by referee Ashley Klein. Photo: Brett Costello
James Maloney gets told off by referee Ashley Klein. Photo: Brett Costello

 

It starts at the top.

The Australian Rugby League Commission was implemented to be independent of the club influence.

Yet on Saturday Commissioner Mark Coyne stood down after chairman Peter Beattie canvassed the clubs and found not all supported him, so he encouraged Coyne to resign.

Several seasons ago the NRL declared only captains could talk to referees in the game.

Yet on Sunday referee Ashley Klein warned James Maloney, the stand-in captain because James Tamou was off, for being "confrontational".

That didn't slow the Panthers.

Halftime sounded and Tamou headed on the field to also challenge Klein's refereeing.

They chased him up the tunnel where halfback Nathan Cleary and coach Ivan Cleary joined the argument with Klein.

"I might've spoken to them, yeah, possibly," Ivan Cleary said. "You can ask them. It was nothing untoward."

Untoward according to what, the old rules or the new rules?