Common sense missing in decisions on charges

Action from the Wests Tigers v Sharks match at the weekend. Photo: AAP Image.
Action from the Wests Tigers v Sharks match at the weekend. Photo: AAP Image.

WHILE our early season love affair with the NRL bunker is not exactly on the rocks, it certainly isn't as rosy as it was four weeks ago.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan was well within his rights to blow up deluxe over what was a 12-point turnaround call in their match against the Tigers on Saturday evening, as was Dragons boss Paul McGregor over a poor decision to award the Cowboys a try a few hours later.

Thankfully, though, the iffy decisions from the bunker did not define either result.

Flanagan probably best summed up the thoughts of most fans when he said the bunker had not made better decisions, but had made calls faster.

But like most innovations, the bunker needs time.

It is, after all, new technology to the game and is being controlled by - without sounding too critical - rookies.

And let's face it, on-field referees are dead-set using it as a crutch.

Unless they are 100% certain in their own mind they are going to the bunker.

So whether it's "Bernie" or 'General' in charge, they are - excuse the pun - being bombarded in the bunker.

And, they must make a decision - no ifs, buts or maybes. And, because they are human and not infallible, they will make mistakes.

For what it's worth I can cop the odd gaffe from the bunker.

But what I do not comprehend at the moment is the apparent disconnection between the Match Review Committee and the Judiciary.

After four rounds of the competition 20 players had been charged by MRC co-ordinator Michael Buettner and his cohorts, Bradley Clyde, Peter Louis and Michael Hodgson.

Buettner recently replaced former top referee Greg McCallum in the role, seemingly to remove that perceived detachment between players and referees.

But something is wrong, and alarmingly so. Of those 20 players charged, seven have successfully fronted the judiciary - a panel also consisting of ex-players - and have been exonerated.

Okay, so that's a great result for the players and their fans. And it's an example that justice does prevail at the NRL. But, by the same token, these judiciary results are a very ordinary look for the Buettner-controlled MRC.

But again, the referees are taking the easy way out.

They are often passing the buck by placing players on report for what are seemingly insignificant and accidental misdemeanours, and asking someone else to make the tough decision.

Blatant foul play has no place in our game and the so-called crusher tackle, which has been the subject of four of those seven exonerations, is a deplorable act. But surely the referees, the MRC and the Judiciary can be operating somewhere on the same page.

After all, common sense is supposed to be common.