NRL investigating 'unacceptable' Warriors cheating claims about referees

The NRL boss has slammed the 'unacceptable' allegations against his officials.

·4-min read
Pictured left is NRL referee Todd Smith talking to Warriors player Tohu Harris during the Penrith Magic Round game.
The CEO of the Warriors' major sponsor accused NRL officials of cheating during the 18-6 loss to Penrith in Magic Round. Pic: Getty

The CEO of the Warriors' major sponsor has doubled down on explosive cheating allegations levelled at NRL officials after the New Zealand-based side's Magic Round defeat to the Penrith Panthers. The NRL says it has launched an investigation after Jason Paris, CEO of telco One NZ, took to social media to allege "cheating of the highest order" on the part of match officials.

In a series of explosive posts on social media after the Warriors' 18-6 defeat, Paris alleged that alleged referees were betting money against the Kiwi side and had conspired to reduce them to 12 players. He questioned the integrity of the whistleblowers and the Bunker after a number of calls that went against the New Zealand side.

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Following the match, Warriors coach Andrew Webster was bristling when asked about referee Todd Smith's decision to overlook a possible high tackle on captain Tohu Harris from Panthers enforcer Moses Leota. Webster also questioned whether rookie Demitric Sifakula had struck Nathan Cleary as claimed by the referee when he sent the forward to the sin-bin after a scuffle between the two teams.

Sifakula became the second player sent to the bin after Jackson Ford, for a hip-drop on Spencer Leniu. Paris shared Webster's frustrations, sensationally questioning the referees' integrity in several Twitter posts.

"Are you kidding me?" he tweeted. "How biased are are (sic) the @NRL bunker and referees against the @NZWarriors? Have they got money on them to lose? It's like we are permanently against 14 on the field and they want us to play with 12. Huge courage from the boys.

"It's absolutely outrageous and so incredibly frustrating. Imagine how the team feel - three games in 11 days and then this rubbish. Cheating of the highest order.

Seen here, players from the Warriors and Panthers clashing during the round 10 clash for the NRL's Magic Round.
Players from the Warriors and Panthers clash during the round 10 clash for the NRL's Magic Round. Pic: Getty

"It's tough to watch. For the last two weeks we have had players receiving clear & direct shots to the head, it was reviewed and cleared by the bunker.

"Last week against the roosters that same player then scored a try against us soon after (admittedly it was a great try) and then yesterday same thing at a crucial time and it would been a momentum swing for us, but instead we lose two players for ten minutes for very marginal calls. It's the inconsistency that drives me crazy."

NRL investigating 'unacceptable' comments

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo savaged the commentary from Paris as "completely unacceptable" and confirmed an investigation was underway.

"We will do everything possible to protect our match officials and the game," Abdo said in a statement provided to AAP. "Questioning their integrity is completely unacceptable.

"We are currently exploring all our options and will take whatever steps we believe are necessary to defend them."

Paris doubled down on his comments on Sunday evening after hearing the NRL had launched a probe into his explosive comments. "I'd welcome a chat,' Paris tweeted.

"Anything that leads to a fair and consistent playing field for the Warriors will grow the game even more in NZ." The NRL's head of football operations Graham Annesley is expected to address Paris' comments in his weekly briefing on Monday afternoon.

with AAP

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