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The Roar


Give coaches a choice: NRL post-match press conferences are mandatory, but only to say what the bosses want you to say

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15th April, 2024

If there were any doubts about the pointlessness of NRL post-match press conferences then I believe that they have been put to rest in the past few weeks.

Last week, Sydney Roosters’ coach Trent Robinson was given an official warning by the NRL over his comments in relation to Dom Young’s send-off and the sin-binning of Victor Radley in their side’s loss to Canterbury Bulldogs.

The NRL was so concerned by Robinson’s comments that it requested a transcript of the post-match press conference and conduct a full review.

It was reported Robinson narrowly avoided a fine, but he was warned by the NRL over the comments and another transgression will likely result in further punishment.

A panellist on NRL 360 said Robinson’s comments went down like a lead balloon at the league’s head office.

Robinson commented about two video referee decisions describing Radley’s sin-binning for an alleged hip-drop tackle as “ridiculous” and said Young’s send-off set a new benchmark.

The criticism of Radley’s sin-binning seems reasonable considering the Roosters lock was not charged by the match review committee.


Furthermore, it was curious when on Friday the video referee chose not to send Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen to the sin-bin for what one FOX League analyst described as a hip-drop tackle.

The match review committee charged Papenhuyzen with Grade One Dangerous Contact.

Robinson’s issue with Young’s dismissal – a decision I agree with – was that it was inconsistent with how similar incidents had been treated recently by video referees.

Two incidents that come to mind are from round two – Penrith’s Jerome Luai’s swinging arm on Parramatta’s Bailey Simonsson and Briton Nikora’s hit on Viliame Kikau in Cronulla’s clash with Canterbury.

Young was the first player to be sent off this season.

The NRL have allowed criticism of decisions by referees provided they do not involve questioning the integrity of officials. However, I feel that Robinson’s criticism was confined to his own view and the merit of the decisions.


But coaches and players are between a rock and a hard place; one one hand they are compelled to appear before the cameras under the threat of a fine, then on the other, they can’t really say what is on their minds truthfully.

Once they take their seats it is inevitable for reporters to ask for their opinions on controversial issues including contentious referee decisions.

The NRL’s official warning and threat of financial penalty should allow Robinson or any other coach to decline to appear at press conferences.

After all, what is the point of us fans being fed only opinions through rose-coloured glasses, or propaganda because it suits the game’s administrators?

If the governing body insists on demanding their attendance under the threat of a fine coaches should be allowed to excuse themselves from press conferences almost as soon as they arrive like Souths coach Jason Demetriou who ended a press conference after 27 seconds.

Coaches should be allowed to respond openly and honestly to questions from the media otherwise there is no point appearing.


If a coach or player responds to a question from an NRL-accredited member of the media without besmirching anyone personally there should be no sanctions, no investigations and certainly no warnings.

Coaches do not have the choice to avoid press conferences. Unlike the head office, they cannot pick and choose when they talk to the media.

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During times of controversy head office executives can bunker down to avoid the media spotlight instead issuing press releases and avoiding questions while waiting for an issue to drift from the public’s attention.

Coaches and players have no such option after a game. Coaches and players are then sanctioned for making legitimate points about problems that have been allowed to happen under the watch of the same people issuing sanctions.

Mistakes from officials are shrugged away by the NRL because they are said to have a difficult job.


It’s about time coaches told the NRL they won’t be attending press conferences for the same reason.