‘Extremely unhappy’: NRL axes refs after Roosters debacle
The NRL has reacted swiftly to the officiating howlers in Friday night's Eels-Roosters match by axing the bunker officials who failed to act on a number of controversial incidents.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said he was "extremely unhappy" with several decisions from the bunker, led by senior review official Steve Chiddy, adding that their performance "did not meet our expectations".
"Referees Coach Jared Maxwell and I spoke at length immediately following the game last night," Annesley said in a statement.
"While we cannot comment about specific incidents which may be subject to the match review process, more generally, Jared and I were extremely unhappy about a number of decisions which occurred throughout the game.
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"As a result, the bunker officials involved, who were due to officiate again tonight, have been replaced.
"They will not officiate again in Round Nine."
Chiddy was meant to be back in the bunker for Saturday night's Queensland derby between the Cowboys and Broncos, but has been replaced by Chris Butler.
"We expect a high standard of performance from all of our match officials, and they are accountable for their performances just like everyone else in the game.
"The performance last night did not meet our expectations."
After the game, Trent Robinson labelled the NRL's referees and bunker officials "incompetent" after they failed to act on an ugly incident involving Parramatta's Dylan Brown that resulted in Roosters five-eighth Drew Hutchison taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs and a punctured lung.
In a fiery aftermath to Parramatta's 31-18 win, Robinson refused to blame the controversy just before halftime for his team's defeat, despite the fact many thought the Eels should have had Brown and Marata Niukore sent to the sin bin for separate acts of foul play when the match was in the balance.
But Robinson was livid at how the process played out when Brown's knees into the back of Hutchison resulted in no immediate action despite the Roosters No.6 being left in agony as he clutched at his back.
In a helter-skelter period of play, Niukore smashed James Tedesco with a shoulder charge that was placed on report, but the bunker failed to act on the more damaging incident involving Brown's late contact on Hutchison as he attempted to score a try.
Tedesco pleaded with the onfield ref to have a look but he was turned away.
And despite numerous replays showing Brown's actions, he was still not placed on report until during the halftime break, while Hutchison was being rushed to hospital after paramedics were called to take oxygen to him in the dressing room.
When asked if more action should have been taken on the field, Robinson could hardly contain his frustration and anger: "Well, there was no action on the field. There was no action whatsoever on the field.
"Look, I don't know how they are going to judge that. But we couldn't even replace Drew with a free interchange because it wasn't even on report at that stage.
"They looked at it 10 times and they couldn't find anything.
"And then they had all of halftime and then we run out on the field and they say it is on report now.
"They could have told us 10 minutes in so I could have changed it in the dressing room. But they told us as we were running out on the field so I had to make a split-second change.
"It is ridiculous. It is incompetent to not see that.
"A guy goes to hospital and then how long would that be? 20 minutes later they put him on report? It is ridiculous."
Robinson said it was pointless taking his complaints to the NRL for an explanation.
"No," he said. "They don't need me to ask the question. They should be looking at it themselves."
Fox League experts were equally confused, with Michael Ennis adamant Brown should have been sin-binned.
"That's astounding," Ennis said. "I don't know how with all the time we had and Bunker reviews that Dylan Brown wasn't sin-binned.
"I don't know how Dylan Brown is not on report. Have I missed something? Am I seeing something wrong? He's come in with knees. Yes Niukore needed to be put on report absolutely but surely Dylan Brown comes into question.
Greg Alexander was equally bemused: "How did the bunker or on-field officials miss the knees in the back?
"That should have been a reportable offence and the player has left the field, so the Roosters should have been able to replace Drew Hutchison with the 18th man but they can't and the 18th man is Joseph Suaalii."
In relation to Niukore's shoulder charge on Tedesco, Ennis said: "That is very similar to what we saw at the SCG on Anzac Day".
Shane Flanagan added: "That frustrates me because that could put a player like James Tedesco out of our game for a long period of time".
Cooper Cronk believed the crackdown gave referee Matt Cecchin more than enough to suffice further punishment for Niukore.
"With the new rules and the new interpretation the referees are allowed to with contact with the head, I would have thought that would have come into consideration, the way that made contact with James' head," Cronk said.
Niukore could also be in strife for what appeared to be a shoulder charge on young halfback Sam Walker just before the Tedesco incident.
Robinson had every right to be incredibly proud of his team's performance after they also lost star lock Victor Radley to a concussion injury early in the game.
The NRL deserves to come under fire after they issued an edict to all clubs during the week warning of a crackdown on dangerous contact.
Clubs were notified on Wednesday that there would be minimal tolerance on avoidable head contact this round with refs encouraged to use the sin bin.
Robinson said his team didn't play well enough to win the game but he was rightly not happy with the officials.
"Don't send a letter and then not back it up," he added.
"That incident was unacceptable from the bunker and referees but we weren't good enough. We had lots of opportunities to win the game because we were really courageous but we weren't in the game because we weren't smart enough with our footy."
Originally published as 'Extremely unhappy': NRL axes refs after Roosters debacle