Warriors sponsor in huge backflip after NRL 'cheating' storm

The ugly claims from the Warriors' sponsor were labelled 'completely unacceptable' from the NRL CEO.

·4-min read
Seen here is NRL referee Todd Smith and Warriors player Tohu Harris.
The CEO of the Warriors' major sponsor (not pictured) has backtracked after making cheating accusations against NRL referees and the Bunker. Pic: Getty

The CEO of the Warriors' major sponsor has performed a drastic backflip after accusing NRL officials of "cheating of the highest order", following his side's defeat to Penrith in the NRL's Magic Round. Jason Paris, CEO of telco One NZ, went on a social media rampage during the Warriors' 18-6 loss to the two-time defending premiers after accusing referee Todd Smith and the Bunker of conspiring against his club.

In a series of explosive posts on social media, Paris insinuated that NRL referees were betting money against the Kiwi side after seeing them reduced them to 12 players on more than one occasion. 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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The Warriors were incensed by the referee and Bunker's decision to overlook a possible high tackle on captain Tohu Harris from Panthers enforcer Moses Leota. Adding to their frustrations was the fact the Warriors also had rookie Demitric Sifakula (striking) and Jackson Ford (hip-drop tackle) sent to the sin bin during the clash, prompting Paris' explosive claims of "cheating" on social media.

"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.

"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' accusations

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo labelled the accusations against his officials "unacceptable" and confirmed that an investigation had been launched into the comments from the Warriors' major sponsor. On Monday, Paris backtracked on his wild cheating claims but maintained that the Warriors were frequently on the wrong side of decisions by the league's officials.

"I don't think that the NRL refs are cheats, no one comes onto the field to do that," Paris told SEN NZ. "But you can't argue with some of these inconsistencies against the Warriors and it happens every single week.

"It is so frustrating when the team is performing better than they have for quite some time that the momentum is being stopped in games because, I think, of unfair or inconsistent decisions."

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

Paris maintained that the high contact on Harris should never have gone unpunished, considering the technology and number of broadcast angles at the disposal of the Bunker. "When you've got high definition video footage that you're watching in slo-mo and the NRL has been clear on what their ruling is ... all you can expect is consistency and I don't think that the Warriors are getting that," he said.

The Warriors' sponsor says he has yet to receive correspondence from the NRL, despite Abdo indicated that a probe has been launched into the remarks. "We will do everything possible to protect our match officials and the game," the NRL CEO 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 welcomed the NRL probe into his comments and said he was glad to have started a debate about how officials were adjudicating the Kiwi club's games.

"This is just a passionate fan calling it out as I see it," Paris added. "I'm hoping that it will help get some consistent calls for the Warriors when they're playing because I'm not seeing it often enough at the moment."

with AAP

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