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NRL drops referee as Jarome Luai weighs in on furore around Jahrome Hughes ban

The NRL has dropped referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski for round three.

The NRL has dropped referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski for round three after the Bulldogs were denied a try because the official was ruled to have obstructed Cronulla's five-eighth Braydon Trindall in the build-up. Przeklasa-Adamski has not been listed as referee for any of the NRL's eight games this weekend but will serve as touch judge when the Wests Tigers go head-to-head with Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval.

Viliame Kikau had his try disallowed after Przeklasa-Adamski asked the bunker to check whether he had impeded Trindall's ability to make a tackle on the second-rower. Replays showed the Cronulla five-eighth collided with the referee as he attempted to chase down Kikau.

Pictured L-R: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Jarome Luai and Jahrome Hughes
The NRL has dropped referee Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski after a round two blunder, while Jarome Luai has thrown his support behind Jahrome Hughes after the Melbourne half was suspended for pushing ref Chris Butler. Image: Getty

So the bunker ruled a mutual infringement - where neither side was to blame for the incident- and the game restarted from the previous play-the-ball. But the NRL rules state that the ref must make the call on the field if he believes a mutual infringement occurred.

"The referee is the sole judge of what constitutes a mutual infringement and whether or not play has been irregularly affected," the NRL rulebook states. "Contact between a defender and referee may not constitute a mutual infringement."

NRL's head of football Graham Annesley was unhappy with Przeklasa-Adamski's decision, stating that the try shouldn't have been overturned. "I don't believe this try should have been overturned. The referee has to be somewhere on the field. He can't just disappear," he said.

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Annesley said Trindall's decision to run to one side of the referee and then cut back in-field in an attempt to tackle Kikau was a defensive decision and not one where the ref's positioning affected if the try was going to be scored or not. "If we allow that try to be disallowed on that basis, we'll have players making contact with the referees in multiple instances where they'll be claiming they've been disadvantaged and ask for tries to be overturned," he said.

Jarome Luai throws support behind banned Jahrome Hughes

Penrith Panthers playmaker Jarome Luai says Jahrome Hughes' referee push was nothing more than "high testosterone and emotion", insisting the suspended Melbourne half would never try to hurt a match official. Hughes pushed Chris Butler after the referee found himself between the halfback and Warriors centre Rocco Berry as the Storm defended their line during Saturday night's game.

In the 58th minute, Hughes found himself directly behind the official, with Berry charging towards the line. In a desperate bid to stop him, Hughes decided to push Butler out of the way - sending the ref tumbling to the ground - so he could make a try-saving tackle.

Jahrome Hughes will miss Melbourne's round three match against the Knights after accepting a one-match ban for pushing referee Chris Butler in the Storm's dramatic 30-26 win over the Warriors on Saturday night. Image: Getty/Fox Sports.
Jahrome Hughes will miss Melbourne's round three match against the Knights after accepting a one-match ban for pushing referee Chris Butler in the Storm's dramatic 30-26 win over the Warriors. Image: Getty/Fox Sports.

Following the game, the Storm star was handed a one-game ban by the NRL. Melbourne had been tempted to fight the contrary conduct charge, but in a strongly worded statement on Monday confirmed they had decided against risking a longer ban at the judiciary with Hughes to serve his one-game suspension when the Storm face Newcastle on Sunday.

Penrith five-eighth Luai was the last player before Hughes to face a sanction for making contact with a match official, pushing touch judge Chris Sutton while celebrating a try against Brisbane in 2023. Hughes' incident with the ref prompted pundits to draw comparisons to Luai's push, for which the star Panther only received an $1800 fine.

Despite only seeing pictures of the incident, Luai said he was sure there was no malice in Hughes' push. "It's kind of hard, we're just players trying to win games and stop tries and things like that," Luai said.

"I'm not too sure if it's the positioning of the ref or something like that, where they should or shouldn't stand. It's a bit of a tough one. Just being a competitor and being a player, he was probably trying to stop a try. For any player, we're competitors and we're in a game with high testosterone, emotions are everywhere and things like that. Most of us are good guys off the field. It's not personal or anything like that."

with AAP

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