Warriors coach Matt Elliott thinks NRL referees are
scared to make decisions because they are miked up and believes
the microphones need to be switched off to allow them to
communicate with players and let the game flow.
Elliott would prefer to see the NRL follow the lead of
American football, where referees turn their microphones on
only to communicate their reasons behind a decision.
The recommendation comes in a week when rugby league bosses
outlined their plans to ban shoulder charges in the NRL,
which has drawn the ire of many players and fans who felt
often dramatic collisions were the one thing that made rugby
Bosses and medicos are concerned, however, about player
welfare, and the number of serious head traumas occurring in
American football is only adding weight to their argument.
The decision is expected to be ratified by the Australian
Rugby League Commission next month and brought into effect
for next year's competition.
The reality is shoulder charges made up only a small minority
of tackles - a report into the frequency found it made up
0.05 per cent of the 142,355 tackles this year - so the
change will be minimal.
Elliott's suggestion would have a bigger impact and he
intends raising the matter with new referees boss and former
Warriors coach Daniel Anderson. Referees have worn
microphones which can be heard by TV and radio audiences, as
well as spectators at the ground on 'sports ears', for some
"We have talented refs but they aren't refereeing like they
can because they look like they have a lot on their mind
rather than just refereeing the game," Elliott said.
"My one request is that I think refs should be almost like in
the NFL and when they want to explain a decision they turn
the mic on. When they walk into a scrum, 'that was a knock-on
or that penalty was for this', but then it's off.
"They have been deprived the opportunity to manage the game
because everyone is listening to them. I just think they are
being over-scrutinised and perhaps overcoached for all the
right reasons. They looked tight to me last year, scared to
Players will now be wary about shoulder charges and Warriors
prop Ben Matulino, one of the game's best exponents of using
his shoulder in tackles, has called on the NRL judiciary to
show some leniency as players adjust.
It's something he has practiced since he was a youngster and
he believes it has a place in the game.
"It will be sad to see people suspended for a couple of weeks
just because of a shoulder charge but if they are lenient it
will be a lot better for us," he said. "I will try my best
not to do it.
"I know there will be times in the game when I want to go for
a shot and it will probably happen and I'll give up a penalty
for the team. I will learn over time.
"I'm a bit disappointed to see it go but it's something I
have to adapt to ... but there aren't too many big hits in a
game anyway. I think the downside of it is that it's a crowd