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Demise and dissent on the field directly linked to lack of accountability off it

WINNING STARTS MONDAY

Reluctant boss: Cronulla coach Peter Sharp with Sharks captain Paul Gallen.

Reluctant boss: Cronulla coach Peter Sharp with Sharks captain Paul Gallen. Photo: Getty Images

Mark down April 2 as the date when Cronulla's 2014 premiership hopes effectively ended after the Sharks announced that suspended coach Shane Flanagan would rejoin the club next season on a new three-year deal.

The day that players lost respect for referees was more recent, with the dissent shown by Chris Sandow and Nate Myles on Sunday indirectly linked to the re-appointment of Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins to Origin II after their controversial performance in the series opener.

This column isn't defending the actions of Sandow and Myles or criticising caretaker Cronulla coach Peter Sharp in any way but the decisions made by the Cronulla board and those in charge of NRL referees left players confused about how accountable others in the game were.

Gallen argues with referee Gavin Morris after another Sharks try was disallowed against Manly.

Gallen argues with referee Gavin Morris after another Sharks try was disallowed against Manly. Photo: Getty Images

By appointing Sharp as an interim coach, the Sharks signalled to their players that the club was merely treading water this season until Flanagan returns from his NRL imposed 12-month suspension at the end of the year.

It didn't matter how well or poorly they performed as Sharp, who is highly regarded within the game as both a person and a coach, had no interest in the job long term and nor was he ever going to be considered for it.

However, neither was anyone with an ambition to coach at NRL level and the club ruled out appointing Canberra assistant Brett Kimmorley to work with Sharp, while former North Queensland mentor Neil Henry was never an option.

Dissenter: Nate Myles was sin-binned for his comments directed at referees.

Dissenter: Nate Myles was sin-binned for his comments directed at referees. Photo: Getty Images

In fact, no one was hired to cover the loss of Flanagan, with James Shepherd promoted from Under 20s to become Sharp's assistant and long serving juniors coach Dave Howlett moving from under 18s to take over his job, while NSW Cup coach Tony Herman also helps with the NRL team.

Despite winning just two of their 13 matches so far this season and on Saturday night becoming the first team in premiership history unable to score a point in three consecutive games, Cronulla officials have indicated it will be business as usual until Flanagan returns after again ruling out an approach from captain Paul Gallen to bring in Kimmorley for the rest of the season.

Gallen has been widely criticised for his comments on Triple M about team-mates not "putting 100 per cent in because they are under the impression Sharpie isn't putting 100 per cent in" but the NSW captain was simply being honest about his fears that the Sharks were destined for the wooden spoon this season.

Blues officials were unhappy with the performances of referees Shayne Hayne (pictured) and Ben Cummins.

Blues officials were unhappy with the performances of referees Shayne Hayne (pictured) and Ben Cummins. Photo: Getty Images

While there is no doubt the club has been battered by an horrific injury toll this season, fans must now wonder whether some players would have played more games if they believed the club was serious about wanting to win a premiership this season.

Long suffering Cronulla supporters would also be right to question whether the match officials are against them after the Sharks had three tries disallowed in last Saturday night's 26-0 loss to Manly.

But no player can ask a referee "how much are they paying you" as Sandow did to Cummins in Melbourne on Sunday and expect to stay on the field.

Parramatta captain Jarryd Hayne argues with Cummins after Chris Sandow is sin-binned.

Parramatta captain Jarryd Hayne argues with Cummins after Chris Sandow is sin-binned. Photo: Getty Images

Former leading referee, Super League chief executive and NRL match review committee boss Greg McCallum posted on Facebook: "If he had said it to me when I was refereeing I would have sent him straight off - not the sin bin".

Myles was also sin binned after a running battle with referees Gerard Sutton and Gavin Badger in which he asked for a second explanation of a penalty because "I've got selective hearing" and swore when protesting a try by St George Illawarra lock Trent Merrin in the Titans' 19-18 loss.

Gold Coast were trailing 18-12 at the time, while the Eels were down 24-16 and conceded three tries while Sandow was in the sin bin so both deserve criticism for costing their teams any chance of winning but their inexcusable behaviour came just days after an Origin match in which NSW and Queensland players were permitted to get away with virtually anything as Hayne and Cummins lost control.

Aware that Blues officials had wanted one or both of them sacked over a series of controversial rulings against NSW in the final minutes of Origin I, Hayne and Cummins were under severe pressure after retaining their positions and blew just 14 penalties last Wednesday night, while maintaining a skinny 10 metres that resulted in slow play the balls and the constant niggling tactics throughout the game.

34 comments so far

  • With the game now almost un-refereeable due to the convoluted rule changes corrupting what once was a simple game, several things are happening, referees are not game to make decisions and players are losing respect for the referees. The other thing is a different matter and is more societal than anything else and that is the abuse thrown at referees by players. It will only be fixed by very harsh penalties, if not the game will descend into chaos and god help the Grand Final.

    Commenter
    RTP
    Location
    Sawtell
    Date and time
    June 23, 2014, 3:21PM
    • Disrespect for referees is not societal it's cultural. League players abuse referees because they know they'll get away with it. Without dragging the thread into a tribal League vs Union battle that will help no one, just look at the way the players and officials interact in a Union game. The rules are set in place from the Under 7s and apply all the way to international games. Only the captains are permitted to speak to the referee. The referee refers to players other than the captain by jersey number and the players call him "sir". They aren't mates, they aren't equals, the referee is unquestionably in charge. Any dissent is quickly penalised by a loss of ground or sin binning.

      Commenter
      Toby
      Date and time
      June 23, 2014, 4:03PM
    • Well said.

      I wonder why Cronulla haven't tried Jim Dymock.

      Commenter
      Trevor
      Location
      Binalong
      Date and time
      June 23, 2014, 5:27PM
    • I totally agree with Toby on the subject of player - referee interaction. I sometimes think that referees are overawed by the players they have to officiate.
      An issue that I am also concerned about is the influence all of this has on junior Rugby League players. When I used to control schoolboy matches, I would immediately send from the field any child who opened his mouth to criticize my refereeing (I did have a ticket, btw), and then I would deal with the parents back at school, if they wished to complain. Children are sometimes too quick to model their behaviour on what they see in NRL matches, and, unfortunately, their parents are too stupid or too besotted by little Johnny's antics to give little Johnny the clip around the ear that he probably needs. We see and hear about incidents involving junior RL players and parents; I suspect that many more go unreported.

      Commenter
      Parto
      Location
      Wild West
      Date and time
      June 23, 2014, 5:34PM
    • Why would anyone be overawed by a bunch of knuckle-dragging neanderthals?

      Commenter
      TheCutter
      Date and time
      June 23, 2014, 7:58PM
  • I was talking yesterday how there are too many rule changes in league. They seem to change rules for the sake of changing them. Many of the sports I follow - soccer, NFL, MLB, NBA - have as many rule changes combined over the years as league.

    It makes the players confused, the refs, the fans, all of us

    Commenter
    rayj
    Date and time
    June 23, 2014, 3:43PM
    • If only they had professional management at Sharks HQ.

      Commenter
      ross
      Location
      caringbah
      Date and time
      June 23, 2014, 3:47PM
      • Intimidation

        Commenter
        JR Brand
        Date and time
        June 23, 2014, 4:06PM
        • The refereeing the other night was OK. Certainly wasn't God-awful as it would appear if you read reports on it but didn't watch it. Sure, a bit too much niggle was involved and wasn't penalised - forearms on players on the ground and a few palms pressed on faces - but it wasn't a terrible 10m or anything. Game 1 was much worse - the referees basically handed Queensland the ball for the final six or seven minutes with many back-to-back "blunders". That was the clearest example of terrible refeeing in the series so far - any others errors favouring one team or the other were mitigated by similar ones later that evened things up. I've still not heard or read as much commentary about the final six or seven minutes of Game 1 as I've read on relatively small incidents from the rest of the two matches. Why is that?

          Commenter
          SteveCG
          Location
          Woy Woy
          Date and time
          June 23, 2014, 4:08PM
          • It never ceases to amaze me that NSW supporters always feel hard done by....what was the penalty count in game two....2 to one in favour of NSW....

            The bad call on the Thaiday try by the video ref was a joke....he had two tacklers on him and a NSW hand stripped the ball....how could that not be a penalty try??

            But it seems all that is never noticed by blues supporters.

            Commenter
            george
            Location
            sydney
            Date and time
            June 23, 2014, 4:32PM

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        MAN 44vs BRI 14 Stats
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        GCT 24vs PAR 14 Stats
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        Round 22
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        BRI 16vs CBY 18 Report Stats
        MAN 28vs SOU 8 Stats
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        NZW 0vs STG 36 Stats
        CRO 30vs NQL 18 Stats
        PAR 10vs PEN 4 Stats
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        MEL 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
        NEW 22vs SYD 38 Report Stats
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        Round 23
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        NQL 18vs SOU 31 Stats
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        BRI 32vs STG 6 Report Stats
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        WST 18vs NEW 24 Stats
        PEN 24vs NZW 10 Stats
        SYD 28vs PAR 18 Stats
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        CBR 24vs MAN 26 Stats
        CBY 36vs GCT 14 Report Stats
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        CRO 2vs MEL 30 Stats
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        Round 24
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        STG 19vs PEN 12 Report Stats
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        SOU 18vs CBY 32 Report Stats
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        CRO 40vs WST 18 Report Stats
        NZW 16vs NQL 50 Report Stats
        SYD 12vs BRI 10 Report Stats
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        GCT 28vs CBR 12 Stats
        MAN 16vs PAR 20 Report Stats
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        MEL 6vs NEW 20 Report Stats
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        SOU 12vs BRI 47 Report Stats
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        MAN 10vs SYD 46 Report Stats
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        PAR 28vs CRO 35 Stats
        NEW 18vs CBY 20 Stats
        MEL 14vs NQL 6 Report Stats
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        WST 50vs NZW 16 Report Stats
        GCT 28vs STG 26 Stats
        Mon, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
        CBR 34vs PEN 18 Stats
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        Round 26
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        BRI 8vs MEL 15 Report Stats
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        SYD ($1.45)vs SOU ($2.80) 19:45AS
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        PEN ($2.40)vs NEW ($1.60) 15:00Pepp
        STG ($1.70)vs WST ($2.20) 17:30ANZ
        NQL ($1.22)vs GCT ($4.40) 19:301300
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        PAR ($1.60)vs CBR ($2.40) 14:00Pirtek
        CRO ($1.50)vs MAN ($2.65) 16:00Rem
        CBY ($1.06)vs NZW ($10.00) 18:30ANZ
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