Coach fury exposes ‘alarming’ NRL trend
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has fire a shot at the heart of the NRL, erupting in his press conference after another weekend of referee and bunker errors.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley will have his work cut out for him when he reviews the weekend on Monday with several high profile errors and coaches asking plenty of questions of the officials.
Kayo is your ticket to the 2020 NRL Telstra Premiership. Every game of every round Live & On-Demand with no-ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
It started on Thursday with Jaxson Paulo's foot sliding into touch before grounding the ball for the Rabbitohs against the Bulldogs, before Eels coach Brad Arthur had issues with Junior Paulo being put on report, and his captain Clint Gutherson blew up over a refereeing mistake that cost his side a try against the Broncos.
Sharks coach John Morris let rip over the referee not stopping the match after Josh Dugan was injured against the Roosters as well on a weekend that saw plenty of animosity at the officials.
But the most explosive take came from Stuart who ripped the officials, and Annesley himself, a new one in an incredible press conference swipe.
Stuart threw a water bottle in fury after star five-eighth Jack Wighton was sin binned for being off-side after repeated penalties.
Despite the issue happening in the first half, Stuart hadn't calmed down by the end of the match.
"That was a shocking game of football," he said.
"If we had put some lineouts in when the ball went out we would have had two rugby union games here in two days … disgraceful.
"If my team was giving those penalties away that's well and good, we get penalised for it but they were doing the same types of things and not getting penalised for it.
"This is not the first time, it really frustrates me and if I say anything you just get paid back so I don't need to say anything more about it. But I just don't think it went both ways in regards to what we were getting penalised for."
Stuart had a head of steam up for the sin bin of Wighton, when the five-eighth rushed up to put pressure on when the Warriors were awarded a penalty 10m out.
And the Raiders couldn't review the penalty either.
"Jack Wighton's sin bin, would have that been the same decisions if it was a semi-final? I hope not because he wasn't off side. You can't make that error," he said.
"I just spoke to the kid down there and he said 'I do that every week. I know the timing and judgment, that's my job'."
Stuart then took aim directly at the NRL's head of football.
"Graham Annesley is a really nice man, he's been in the game for a long time but in regards to rugby league, Graham Annesley and myself, we are planets apart," he said.
"Thank god COVID's in because I tell you we won't get any more than 6,000 into these games."
When asked whether he'll be speaking to the NRL about his issues with the officials, Stuart said: "no, I won't be raising any points".
"I'll be doing my review and they'll do their review, go into hiding with their results and it'll just be game on again next week," he added.
"I've been around the game long enough to know and see where we create a foul and we get penalised, I understand that. Then when you see the opposition doing exactly the same thing I expect the penalty to be there too."
Stuart wasn't alone in the criticism of the league with the coach getting some high profile backup.
Phil Gould backed the Raiders coach over the lack of action over the complaints, that are increasingly coming in thick and fast.
"Ricky Stuart post match press conference is the epitome of frustration. Many in this game know exactly how he feels. Alas, the major frustration comes in knowing that those expressing such frustration, are either ignored, or branded as trouble makers. Meanwhile, the beat goes on," Gould tweeted.
Speaking on Fox League's Big League Wrap, Michael Ennis was concerned with the on field issues taking away from the game.
"Coming towards the finals series, some of the decisions from the bunker and on field referees is alarming," Ennis said. "I'm starting to lose confidence heading towards the finals series when you see a key player at a critical time sin binned."
The Raiders scored two tries during the man disadvantage but can't expect the same luxury during the finals.
Ennis also called referee Chris Sutton "too pedantic" and said it was worrying that two weeks from the finals, he and Annesley were so far apart.
Late in the game, the bunker was called on twice for a potential kick and a tackle in the air - both coming back was wrong decisions.
It led to commentator Greg Alexander saying "I don't know where we go from here … well actually I've said get rid of the bunker, let's just go back to a video referee at the ground."
Why does @NRL appoint blind bunker refs? 2 consecutive howlers. What ground was he looking at?— Chris Smith (@chrissmithonair) September 20, 2020
Originally published as Coach fury exposes 'alarming' NRL trend