Rugby league legend Billy Slater says it’s “ridiculous” to blame players and coaches for taking advantage of the rules after the Titans sparked controversy with the way they deployed the captain’s challenge in round five.
During their 26-20 loss to the Eels on Saturday night, the Titans on two occasions deliberately gave away a penalty so they could access their captain’s challenge, with both reviews proving successful.
In both incidents, the Titans deliberately committed a ruck infringement so a penalty would be called, giving them the ability to challenge the moments in the lead-up to the penalty.
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And while they were successful with both Bunker reviews finding mistakes from the Eels before the eventual deliberate penalties, the NRL on Monday made it clear that going forward, penalties issued for slow rucks can’t be challenged, confirming the on-field referee got it wrong.
The league also confirmed that further deliberate penalties would lead to sin bins.
“I think this is ridiculous. The NRL has created this, they created this problem,” Slater told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio.
The Titans on two occasions give away a penalty to call for a captain’s challenge
“Any rule change that you make, there’s going to be a flow-on effect with the players and coaches – that’s their job.
“They’re professionals, they’re full-time at trying to get the advantage in the game.
“If they feel that within the rules that they can do that, well they’re going to do that. They’re well within their rights to do that.
“To put someone in the bin for a deliberate penalty, you may as well put someone in the bin every time you blow the whistle because every penalty is deliberate.
“You tell me a penalty that’s not deliberate? When you get down on the tryline and you’re defending your tryline, they hold them down longer deliberately to slow the play-the-ball.
“That’s just a part of the game. Every penalty has to be a sin bin if that’s the way you want to adjudicate.”
The captain’s challenge was introduced in 2020 to allow teams to contest on-field decisions made by the referee, in an effort to eliminate mistakes by officials.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley said part of the league’s issue with the Titans’ captain’s challenge controversy was that the game could “become like NFL” with mounting in-game stoppages.
Slater said it’s silly to have so many rules surrounding how a team can use its captain’s challenge.
“The captain’s challenge has been brought in to give the team a chance, if they feel like they’ve been hard done by and a call hasn’t gone their way that should’ve gone their way, they have got a captain’s challenge there ,” he added.
“I don’t see what the problem is. Why can’t we challenge it?
“If you’ve got one challenge, why do we have to wait for a stoppage to call that challenge.
“You’ve only got one, if you get it wrong you haven’t got it anymore, so we’re only going to see one stoppage if they get it wrong.
“But if they get it right, we’re getting the right decision. I don’t know why we’re making all these rules around the captain’s challenge.
“Put a captain’s challenge in, let them take it.”
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