Phil Gould has torched the NRL’s $2 million bunker, saying officials have “lost the plot” and “don’t have a clue” after another week of controversial decisions.
Talking on 100% Footy on Monday night, the NRL supremo took aim at the standard of refereeing over the last few weeks.
In particular, Gould was gobsmacked over an incident in Parramatta’s win over Newcastle in which the Eels asked for a captain’s challenge to overturn a 20m restart decision.
‘SH*T SANDWICH’: NRL world reacts to Dean Pay quitting
The Eels claimed Mika Sivo never touched the ball as ruled on the field, but referee Gerard Sutton inexplicably hijacked the challenge and asked the bunker to also look for an Eels obstruction as well.
The bunker came back with a penalty against the Eels, leaving Gould in disbelief.
“Eels challenge decision of 20m tap claiming Sivo did not touch the ball,” Gould tweeted during the game on Sunday.
“Referee refers Captains Challenge to bunker, but says, check for any obstruction earlier. Why? It’s not a referee challenge? It was not a try scoring referral. Why did referee refer obstruction?”
Question. Eels challenge decision of 20m tap claiming Sivo did not touch the ball. Referee refers Captains Challenge to bunker, but says, check for any obstruction earlier. Why? It’s not a referee challenge? It was not a try scoring referral. Why did referee refer obstruction?— PhilGould15 (@PhilGould15) July 12, 2020
And on Monday night he let rip at officials.
“They’d check everything if they could, they would check every single play,” he said on Channel Nine.
“The referees’ dream is to play the game on Sunday, finish the game at 6 o’clock, pack everything up and say ‘we’ll give you the result on Tuesday’.
“The whole thing needs to be powered down, rebooted with new software and go again because there are some really talented referees there that have just been educated badly over a long period of time.
“And there’s an element within the referees that needs to be removed and until you do, we will keep getting these issues.
“You may as well not send it to the bunker now because they don‘t have a clue what they’re doing, they don’t know how to make a decision. So much so that Matt Cecchin said ‘nope, try again’ — he sent the bunker back to the bunker.”
NRL can’t demote bunker officials
However NRL head of football Graham Annesley admits the league can't demote any of their three video referees because they have no one else qualified to do the job.
For a second consecutive week, Annesley has conceded that the bunker made a crucial error in a critical part of a match, this time Canberra's loss to Melbourne.
Annesley presented a fierce defence of the officials on Monday, saying referees were just as vulnerable to making mistakes as players.
“If we're looking for a utopian situation where officials go onto the field and no one makes an error.. it's just not going to happen,” Annesley said.
“Anyone who thinks it is going to happen is just off with the pixies.”
Annesley revealed the NRL employs just three senior video referees officials each round: Jared Maxwell, Steve Chiddy and Steve Clark.
Maxwell made the decisive call late in Manly's loss to Newcastle last week that resulted in the ugly aftermath involving Addin Fonua-Blake's verbal spray.
In the Raiders' six-point defeat to the Storm on Saturday, Annesley believed Chiddy incorrectly sin-binned Bailey Simonnson for a professional foul.
Asked whether he had the option of axing his bunker officials, Annesley said: “To be brutally honest with you, at the moment, no we don't.”
The bunker is reported to cost the NRL around $2 million every year after it was first brought in for the 2017 season.