NRL head of football Graham Annesley says the referee made one crucial error in Monday’s high-tackle controversy at the SCG.
Roosters winger Daniel Tupou has accepted a one-game ban for a grade two careless high tackle on Dragons opposite Mikaele Ravalawa.
Tupou was penalised and placed on report for the incident, but he was allowed to remain on the field by referee Adam Gee and the Bunker official.
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The fact Tupou wasn’t marched from the field – either for 10 minutes or the remainder of the game – left basically every other onlooker flabbergasted.
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin was livid Tupou was allowed to remain on the field.
“You would have got two years in jail at Magic Round last year for that,” Griffin said, referencing the NRL’s 2021 crackdown on high contact.
“I’m serious. He was dropped back on last play and had 30 metres to decide where to tackle him.
“It was direct contact to the head. I don’t understand the rules. He should have at least been in the sin bin.”
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Bizarrely, when Gee referred the decision to the Bunker he prefaced the review by saying “I don’t believe it’s as bad as it looks”.
That comment left many viewers confused, including Annesley, who confirmed the on-field referee should not be trying to influence the Bunker’s ruling.
“One of the things the referees would have learned over the course of the weekend… is that the Bunker is there to assist the referee. The referee shouldn’t be making any rash judgements that may influence the outcome of the Bunker deliberation,” Annesley told media on Tuesday.
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“I’m not saying that happened in this case, because the Bunker official says that played no role in his outcome.
“But clearly, if we’re going to have these matters assessed by the Bunker after they take place, it’s kind of folly to say ‘let’s make a judgement on it before we do that’.
“Saying ‘it’s not as bad as it looks’ or anything like that, before the Bunker has had a chance to look at it, kind of defeats the whole purpose of the Bunker, and a review.
“Why do we have a Bunker review process? Because we want to try get the decision right.
“The Bunker should be allowed to make an independent assessment of the tackle using the technology that they have available.”
SCG pauses to remember
Annesley was asked how the on-field referee and the Bunker official could get it so wrong, in allowing Tupou to stay on the field despite the blatant high tackle.
“It’s just a misjudgement, there is no other way to describe it,” he said.
“With the benefit of hindsight they would make a very different decision. But they are operating under pressure, they’re making quick decisions, they have a relative short amount of time to review video footage.
“But it’s a misjudgement, it’s a miscall, and sometimes people under pressure make bad judgements. It’s not an excuse… but there is no other explanation for it.”
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