Slater returns serve over referee blaming tirade

1 month ago 6
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Melbourne Storm great Billy Slater has returned serve to NRL head of football Graham Annesley after the administrator launched a stunning takedown of clubs and coaches criticising the game's match officials.

Referees have always been put under the microscope in the NRL, but mounting criticism in recent weeks from clubs who have singled out perceived match-defining moments caused Annesley to hit out in his weekly briefing eariler today.

"Some of the levels of criticism that's been coming about match officials after the game, I think is over the top," he told reporters.

"I think it's unjustified. Although there are decisions that clubs don't like and that they may think should have gone the other way, they're not necessarily wrong decisions.

Graham Annesley (Getty)

"It's overwhelming the post-match commentary about what's happening in games.

"We're not hearing anything about the 20 handling errors on average per game, we're not hearing anything about the 60 missed tackles on average per game. We're not hearing anything about the 30 ineffective tackles on average per game, or the 10 line-breaks on average per game that teams concede.

"Each one of those incidents, I would say to you has a far greater impact on the outcome of the game than one or two refereeing decisions that might be arguable."

In recent weeks, Roosters coach Trent Robinson and Dragons coach Anthony Griffin have both taken aim at calls made by the officials during matches.

Robinson was left furious surrounding a lack of "consistency" during the Tricolours' loss to the Panthers earlier this month, while Griffin last week questioned how a shoulder charge by Nathan Cleary on Jack Bird went uncalled.

Former superstar Queensland fullback Billy Slater. (Getty)

Slater believed coaches were well within their right to question officials, insisting it was part-and-parcel of what made the game so engaging.

"I don't entirely agree with Graham Annesley here," Slater told WWOS Radio on 2GB.

"I think we celebrate the game really well. I think we celebrate the exciting parts and the decisions, whether that's from the players, adjudicators, coaches.

"That's our job. That's why rugby league is where it's at because it's so popular, and we need to talk about all these issues whether it's the referees or not.

"I can understand the frustration talking about decisions, but that's our game. It's always been there and it's always going to be there."

While Annesley didn't single out any coach or comments made in particular, he said the NRL was fed up with the blame of losses being put on officials.

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