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NRL head of football Todd Greenberg defends referees' bunker and shot clock

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NRL head of football Todd Greenberg expects video referee decisions to be faster than they appeared in Saturday night's All Stars match once the broadcasters gets used to the new bunker system.

The NRL's much touted Central Command Centre was used in a live match for the first time on Saturday night but the reaction to it was underwhelming as the three decisions referred to officials in the Redfern bunker all took longer than the anticipated 40 seconds.

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With a try to Konrad Hurrell taking 1 minute, 40 seconds to award, World All Stars coach Wayne Bennett said he couldn't tell the difference but Fairfax Media understands that officials had to wait for Channel Nine before announcing the decision.

Greenberg said the system would improve and he expected faster decisions once the season starts in two weeks' time.

"By and large it was a successful first outing and we learnt a great deal from the trials," Greenberg said.

"The bunker is designed to aid accuracy, efficiency, consistency and transparency and there was nothing from the trialling to suggest those important elements will not be improved dramatically.


"Given the fact that Saturday night's testing was not part of the broadcast, the decision-making process was different to what it will be in round one."

However, Greenberg said the amount of time afforded players to pack scrums would not be reduced from 35 seconds and pointed out that teams will have only eight interchanges during regular season matches, whereas an unlimited interchange rule operated in the All Stars match.

World All Stars captain Cameron Smith admitted he told his players to wait and wind down the clock at various stages of the match but Greenberg said scrums were being packed faster than last season.

"The timings have been agreed to by the coaches, as well as the competition committee, and following detailed research and trials," Greenberg said.

"It is also important to note that the average time taken to pack a scrum last season was 45 seconds. Clearly that number will drop significantly in 2016.

"The results from a match played in four quarters and with unlimited interchange are also likely to be very different from premiership games."

The introduction of the shot clock means players must assemble for a scrum in 35 seconds, and 30 seconds for a drop-out restart. The clock is shown on the big screen at stadiums for players and fans to see.

It was designed to keep games flowing but there were a number of occasions at Suncorp Stadium where all the players were ready to pack a scrum but instead, they waited out the duration of the shot clock.

Whether players are as energetic in NRL games minus the unlimited interchange available on Saturday (and 20-minute quarters) seems doubtful but it will provide urgent food for thought for the game's administrators as the season looms.

"I'll be honest with you, I thought it gave us a chance to have a rest, if anything. There were a few times there early on when we were at the scrum with about 25 seconds left on the clock," Smith said after the game.

"I used my brains a bit and told the boys to wait another 20 seconds. It might change a little bit. It might be different when you take that unlimited interchange out of the game and there are some tired bodies getting around.

"But that's the way it panned out tonight."