The Roar
The Roar


Cowboy coach Henry won't face NRL sanction

15th September, 2013

The referees at the centre of the seventh tackle try drama face the finals axe but outgoing North Queensland coach Neil Henry is likely to be spared any punishment for his claims of a NRL conspiracy against non-Sydney teams.

As the league went into damage control on Sunday over the referee howler which turfed the Cowboys out of the finals, NRL head of football Todd Greenberg – who was at the post-match media conference – had no issue with Henry’s emotional outburst.

“He spoke from the heart and I have great empathy for clubs that go through difficult periods for tough decisions,” Greenberg told Triple M’s NRL coverage.

“I don’t think he overstepped the mark there.

“What he did was show the raw emotion of what it’s like when you lose a football game in difficult circumstances.”

That explanation is hardly likely to go down well out Manly way after Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey copped a $10,000 fine for showing too much emotion in a tirade against referees last month.

Given the circumstances on Saturday night, however – with NRL boss Dave Smith admitting to Henry that the incident was an embarrassment – it would not be a good look for the game to then go and sanction Henry.

Greenberg said the NRL could do little more than put its hands up to the mistake.

“In simple terms, this was just a bad mistake, human error,” Greenberg said.


“It shouldn’t happen, it can’t happen particularity on big stages like finals and unfortunately it did.

“We have to make sure we’ve got enough systems and processes in order for these things not to happen.

“This is what sport is sometimes about. It doesn’t make it good; it doesn’t make it right.”

Speaking post-match, Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston intimated that a botched tackle count was an accident waiting to happen.

“There was times during the game where I’d be looking at the ref seeing what tackle it is, and they’re not even giving us the tackle,” Thurston said.

“You’re asking the referees on the field what tackle is it.

“I shouldn’t have to ask them what tackle – they should be telling us, and they’re not even telling us when they’re playing the ball.”

While Matt Cecchin – the whistleblower responsible for the erroneous count that ended with Beau Ryan scoring on the seventh tackle – and Henry Perenara are unlikely to be seen again during the finals series, there appears little compensation for a Cowboys club dudded by referees two years straight in the finals.


The ramifications go further, with Greenberg saying referees could be made to front the media in the future to explain their decisions.

“I’m not against that on certain occasions,” Greenberg said.

“People have the right to see players when they’ve had poor performances and they have to step up and just sometimes, I’m not saying regularly, where a referee does want to potentially portray his point of view, then we may look at it.”