There's a danger in one NRL ref: Welch

Matt Encarnacion
Christian Welch says the NRL will be making a big mistake if they revert to one referee

Melbourne star Christian Welch is the latest to hit out at the proposed move to one referee, saying it will reduce the quality of the NRL broadcast to the world.

Storm teammate Jesse Bromwich, as well as Warriors winger Ken Maumalo also predicted the ruck would become a shambles without a second official.

Welch, the Queensland State of Origin forward, believes the modern game has become too fast for one whistleblower.

"I feel pretty strongly about this," Welch said on Tuesday.

"The game is getting quicker and quicker. We're reducing the stoppages, dropouts, scrum clocks, the play-the-ball speeds are getting quicker.

"And it's becoming more demanding on our referees.

"I just can't understand, and especially (given) the anti-wrestle and play-the-ball, why we would want to remove a referee."

Welch predicted the consequences of the decision, which is set to be ratified by the ARL Commission this week, risks alienating new supporters.

The league will be one of the first professional sporting bodies in the world to resume its season during the coronavirus pandemic when it returns on May 28.

"It's a really great example for us to showcase rugby league to the world and try and convert other people," Welch said.

"There's a danger there in bringing the one referee in (when) we're not used to it ... Referees normally visit in pre-season and work through things.

"It's an issue of reducing the quality of our game that can be showcased around when the AFL and American sport's not up and running and it's just rugby league."

Bromwich echoed a handful of other NRL players in saying the ruck will become a free-for-all under one referee.

He has had plenty of experience playing without a second official while representing New Zealand in the international arena.

"Obviously you can get away with a bit more in the ruck," he said.

"I've just come to being used to having that pocket ref there every time you're in the ruck defending or playing the ball.

"Just talking to them, he's giving you a lot of feedback on what you're doing live."

Maumalo, who has played 13 Tests, believes there is a noticeable difference in officiating between the NRL and international arena.

"You notice it. The ruck's are a lot slower. You have time on the ground," he said.

"When there's two refs, they speed things up a bit.

"You can milk it as much as you can (in) international footy. When there's two refs, they speed things up because they have two eyes at the ruck rather than one."