Knights coach Nathan Brown.
Knights coach Nathan Brown.

Call that can solve NRL’s referee crisis

NEWCASTLE coach Nathan Brown says he would be willing for his team to be part of a "captain's call" trial as soon as this weekend in a bid to find a solution to the NRL's referee crisis.

The Knights travel to North Queensland on Friday to take on the Cowboys in the 6pm game. With both sides out of finals contention, Brown would be happy, if the NRL asked, to use the fixture to try the captain's call.

The move would mean the skippers from each side could challenge a decision, which might ease pressure on under-siege referees.

After the two howlers that marred Canberra's controversial loss to Cronulla at Southern Cross Group Stadium, and effectively ended the Raiders' slim finals hopes, Brown offered a solution.

Newcastle and St George Illawarra trialled the captain's call during the final round of 2016. Brown said the experiment was a great success.

"We did it a couple of years ago, last round, us and the Dragons, and neither side could make the finals so the two points weren't going to have an impact on any team," Brown said.

"I can't remember. There were plenty of tries and I don't think the video ref got used once and the game flowed quickly. We thought as a club that it was great."

Brown lamented the lack of feedback from the experiment.

"There weren't many people coming back finding out what we thought of it, which was a little strange," he said.

"It was the last round. We were out of the race. It probably got lost in the wash.

"It just takes all the heat off the referee. I think the more pressure we take off the referees, the far less likely they are to put whistles to their mouth and then take it out, or put the flag up and then drop the flag."

Asked would he like to use it against the Cowboys, Brown said: "I am a fan of it. If they ring me and ask me, I would talk to my big boss but with his agreement I would be a big advocate of it because I think it can help the game.

"As I said, pressure off refs, the game flows more. That's what everyone wants.

Canberra’s season is all but over Picture: Brett Costello
Canberra’s season is all but over Picture: Brett Costello

"I think it is far better. The things I liked about it were, one, if we wasted our challenges and then got them wrong, and the referee had a howler, the pressure is not on the referee.

"It is on the playing group and the coaches for making the call earlier and getting the challenges wrong. So if you waste your two challenges a half, and the referee has a shocker, you can't go and bag the referee because you have got two wrong yourself."

Brown has called on the NRL to consider reintroducing the rule to assist referees.

"It just takes a lot of pressure off them," Brown said. "That is the hardest job going, being a referee. It's a tough business. All the things they get wrong get highlighted more because there is lots more media, lots more shows, lots more video angles.

"It is a tough business and anything we can do to take the heat away from them, and make their decision-making easier or more spontaneous, we should do."

An NRL spokesman said relevant issues and incidents would be discussed following the round.