State of Origin clock controversy comes to light after Game II

Felise Kaufusi, pictured here coming back onto the field about eight minutes and 20 seconds after he was sin-binned.
Felise Kaufusi came back onto the field about eight minutes and 20 seconds after he was sin-binned. Image: Channel Nine

A quirk in the NRL's sin-bin rules has come to light after State of Origin II in the wake of Ashley Klein's controversial decision to march Felise Kaufusi.

Despite the Blues blowing Queensland off the park in a 44-12 hammering, the main talking point out of the match was the performance of referee Klein.

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In particular, Klein's decision to send Kaufusi to the sin-bin late in the first half caused the most anger amongst Queensland fans after the second-rower laid on a tackle for far too long with the Blues peppering the try line.

After three previous infringements in quick succession, Klein had seen enough and gave Kaufusi his marching orders.

However it has since come to light that Kaufusi never actually spent the full 10 minutes in the bin and came back onto the field about one minute and 40 seconds early.

Channel Nine footage showed Kaufusi getting his marching orders as the clock neared 39:00 in the match, but returning to the field at the 47:24 mark.

That means he only spent around eight and a half minutes of actual game time in the bin, rather than the full 10 minutes.

Speaking on NRL 360 on Monday night, Paul Kent explained that because NSW scored in the final seconds of the half, Nathan Cleary took the conversion after the clock had hit 40:00.

Felise Kaufusi, pictured here after being sent to the sin-bin in State of Origin II.
Felise Kaufusi looks on after being sent to the sin-bin in State of Origin II. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The clock was sitting on 40:00 for about a minute while Cleary took the kick, which counted towards Kaufusi's time in the sin-bin.

“It looked like about a minute, 40 seconds had disappeared from his sin bin,” Kent said.

“Now we chased it up with (NRL football boss) Graham Annesley and he said because they scored and the kick went after the half-time bell, that’s where the (time) went.

“So for whatever reason, that 1:40, even though it was not part of the game time, it was part of Kaufusi’s sin bin.”

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Kent said the bigger issue for the game might be the fact that a three-clock system is still being utilised.

“But this is my issue, and Todd Greenberg spoke about this when he ran the game,” Kent added.

“If you remember, years ago, there was another disruption in the clock and at the time we sat back we said we’ve got a game clock (run by officials), we’ve got a broadcast clock (on TV) and we’ve also got a ground clock (on the scoreboard).

“Now of those three, everybody at home watches the broadcast clock, the official timekeeper runs the game clock, and the players can see the scoreboard clock, that is the most important one.

“If you had Nathan Cleary last night for example, and it goes down to the final tackle, or we go back to Game I where it’s six points in it, right - if you look up and you’ve got 15 seconds, left, you go ‘Well I’ve got another tackle here’ but that might not be the official clock.

“And at some point there is going to be a drama where someone thinks he looks up, sees the scoreboard says 15 seconds or 20 seconds left, thinks he’s got one or two tackles left and suddenly the referee blows full-time and it’s game over because the game clock is different.

“This is so basic, and we nearly got there last night with this, but it’s so basic I don’t know why they don’t fix it. This is this is dead set from the 1950s.”

Some thought NSW should have been given one final play in the dying stages of their Game I loss, but Klein blew the full-time whistle as Isaah Yeo was playing the ball.

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