'Won't win it': Innocuous comments sparks NRL referee debate

Chris Young
Sports Reporter
Brisbane's Corey Oates was advised against using his captain's challenge in the second half by the match referee. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The tweaked six-again rules and reversion to one referee on the ground proved a big hit with NRL fans upon the season restart on Thursday evening - but sharp-eared fans picked up on a second half controversy.

The Parramatta Eels made short work of Brisbane in the first NRL match since March, but it was a fairly innocuous moment in the second half between referee Gerard Sutton and Broncos winger Corey Oates that caught the attention of fans.

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Oates was shepherding a deal ball over the line when he was pressured by Eels opponent Waqa Blake, leading Fox Footy commentator Greg Alexander to question whether Oates should consider challenging the call after the line drop-out was whistled.

“I don’t know, I think Waqa Blake’s effort to push him in the back was the reason it came off his leg,” he said.

Any thoughts Oates had of challenging were quickly stifled though, as Sutton told the Broncos star, “it’s already been looked at. You won’t win it.”

With the Broncos ahead 16-6 at the time, ultimately going on to claim a 34-6 victory - which meant Sutton’s comment was largely inconsequential.

While it was a minor moment, it didn’t go unnoticed.

Fans divided over NRL's 'weird' fake crowd

Obviously with no supporters inside the stadiums, the match broadcasts lose that special atmospheric quality that only comes from the sounds of thousands of fans screaming uncontrollably from the stands.

So Fox Sports have introduced artificial crowd noise into the broadcast, providing a constant background of generic crowd sound effects to complement the coverage.

The lack of crowd noise was particularly noticeable in round two of the NRL and Fox Sports is adamant that its inclusion makes for a better audience experience.

Fox Sports have exclusive rights to the Saturday night matches where they will each game will be simulcast on two different channels - one with fake noise and one without.

However, while many viewers on Thursday night agreed that the artificial noises made for a better spectacle, others were put off by the fake crowd effects.