NRL clubs will receive just $2.5 million from the governing body to survive the coronavirus crisis should the season fail to resume this year.
The NRL has vowed to throw its support behind under-fire referee Ben Cummins, with the furore which erupted after Sunday’s grand final blunder raging long into Monday.
The official at the centre of the six-again call has been criticised by everyone from Russell Crowe to Wally Lewis and Johnathan Thurston after Sydney Roosters scraped home 14-8.
Cummins himself admitted just last week he at times doesn’t want to go out in public after “a dusty game” to avoid copping it from unhappy fans.
And as ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie said on Monday, Cummins wouldn’t have been feeling good following the grand final.
“Sometimes things happen that are no one’s fault,” Beattie said.
“Nobody is saying Ben went out there to make a bad decision. Of course he didn’t.
“We will support him because at the end of the day if people keep vilifying referees no one will want to do this job.”
Beattie mirrored the view of NRL head of football Graham Annesley who insisted the correct call was made even if the process was wrong.
Regardless, it can’t be denied that it came at a crucial time, with possession awarded to the Roosters after Jack Wighton saw six-again signalled before it was reversed.
“I can understand why a lot of Raiders fans were unhappy with what happened but the reality was a mistake was made and it was corrected,” Beattie said.
“When you’ve got a linesman and the assistant referee giving advice, you can’t ignore it.
“He’s not going to feel terribly good today, of course he’s not. There is controversy around … (but) we’ve got to be sensitive about these things.
“These people are not robots, they are people.”
Not that any of that will appease Raiders fans.
Wighton has since insisted the six-again call changed the way he treated the crucial play, before he was forced to hand it over and the Roosters scored in the next set.
“I saw it (six-again motion), I would have put it on the toe or threw the ball if that was not the instructions,” Wighton said.
“I saw the call so I held onto it and kept it safe and he’s gone back on his decision.
“I watched him wave his arm and I told my forward Emre (Guler) to hold the ball because there was six again.
“He threw it at me and I definitely wasn’t passing it because I knew it was six (again). For the call to get overridden, it was a massive moment in the game.
“But we’re definitely not going to blame a ref for our loss, we had more than enough opportunities.”
Cummins doesn’t use social media and is usually able to avoid seeing criticism.
But the blowback from Sunday’s decision would have been hard to miss.
“It’s not easy but you do get used to (abuse),” Cummins said last week after being appointed to the decider.
“It’s definitely not right and I found that the hardest part to deal with as I came through as a younger referee with that sort of stuff.
“If you’ve had a dusty game sometimes you don’t want to go out in public because you know people will say things.”