The Roar
The Roar


Have the NRL's coaches grown up?

(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Roar Rookie
11th September, 2018

It’s been an absorbing and brutal finals series this year, which – like every series – has its own unique flavor.

The main contrast from last year is the controversial role the refs played – real or imagined.

A year down the track, my opinion has changed little that the Eels and the Sea Eagles were swimming against the tide to win their games because they didn’t get the rub of the green, decision-wise.

The general consensus from head office was that referees make mistakes, but coaches need to focus on the mistakes of their players and themselves.

This year, the view is that it’s the players who decide games and the refs very rarely determine the result.

I don’t know how or why, but fairly deep into the season Todd Greenberg confronted the reality that refs do actually play a major role in the outcome of games at times and it’s something that needed to be looked at.

This final series, we haven’t had a coach blowing up in the press conference and little discussion on the refs. How good is that?

Some may say that the coaches have grown up and instead of deflecting from their own failings are looking at reality, but these finals have been officiated with much greater balance than last year.


Last year, the Storm won their home final with help from the refs and I’ve been vocal about the Broncos’ dream run at home this season, decision-wise. I stick to that opinion 100 per cent.

But the refs have put a lot of work into addressing some issues for the finals.

In Melbourne’s case, they might have gone too far and the balance tipped in favor of the Sharks, but I’d like to praise the efforts of the refs over the last couple of weeks. Brisbane started well against the Dragons, but didn’t hety their good play supercharged by the refs. Getting a few favorable calls when you’re on top can mean a couple of extra tries your way and the whole game changes.

Tevita Pangai Junior of the Broncos

AAP Image/Craig Golding

One last point on the broad issue is about one-off mystery rulings by refs, of which there have been a few this year.

One that drew no comment at all saw Manly’s Brian Kelly pulled up after scoring a try for tapping the ball forward with his hand and regathering. A couple of weeks later, Corey Oates did a similar thing, against Kelly ironically, and it went without comment.

I recall Brett Stewart scoring a famous try by tapping the ball forward. It looks to me like a correct ruling against Kelly but why apply it once and never again?


If the NRL and refs have improved the fairness and balance of the officiating, then they are to be applauded.

I’ll bet the refs are enjoying this year’s final series as well!