Tim Simona of the Tigers passes the ball the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys match at Campbelltown.

Poor turnout: Tim Simona of the Tigers passes the ball during the Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys match at Campbelltown. Photo: Getty Images

We are going to provide an entirely subjective and anecdotal response to the question of why crowds are down, low-lighted by the poor turnout to the Wests Tigers-North Queensland match in Campbelltown on Saturday. Is it just us, or is there a lack of anything ''special'' about this season? No advertising campaign, no Sonny Bill Williams return, no new teams ... OK, there was the Nines. But it is as if the ARL Commission thought they would come, even if nothing was built. Rugby league in the past has used poker-machine money as a crutch. Could TV money be its modern-day substitute?

Players as referees

New Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says referees changed a crucial call in Sunday's one-point loss to Canterbury because they were "confronted by the Bulldogs players".  Ref Brett Suttor ruled Josh Reynolds fumbled in a Sam Tomkins tackle with four minutes left at Eden Park. But fellow ref Ben Cummins changed the call - perhaps on advice from upstairs - and penalised Tomkins, and Trent Hodkinson's ensuing penalty goal tied up the contest. "I'm not sure if it was a penalty or not," McFadden said. "Probably what was most disappointing was they made the decision and then they changed it - probably based on being confronted by the Bulldogs players."

Origin blues: It?s good Semi Radradra can?t play for the Blues.

Origin blues: It's good Semi Radradra can't play for the Blues. Photo: Getty Images

Reynolds' retort

What did Josh Reynolds have to say about this? "I was trying to get up and play the ball and Tomkins was in the ruck," he told Set Of Six. "That's a penalty, mate. People will come out and say 'blah, blah' - well that's the game. I don't make the call. I said [to Suttor] 'how can I play the ball when he's in the ruck?'. Anywhere else on the field, that's a penalty, so why not there?"

Judo skills required

The pledge by Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah to quit if the club doesn't make the finals deserved wider publicity at the weekend. Scurrah may not have covered himself in glory during the Elliott saga, but his undertaking is honourable and goes against the me-first attitude that permeates the game,  Meanwhile in unrelated news, one regular at NRL games on Sunday told how his son's under-11s coach had called for extra training - under a judo coach.

Blurred origins

Set of Six thinks it is great Semi Radradra can't play Origin. The Parramatta winger will be eligible for Australia on residential grounds, but because he didn't live in NSW or Queensland before the age of 13 he can never play interstate football. The Blues and Maroons have been raping the developing countries for too long. With more players outside the two states coming into the NRL, Origin might lose a bit of lustre back to international football - which we also think would be great.

Union bias?

We tend to think of anti-league, pro-union bias at government level as something anachronistic that these days only occurs in, say, Morocco. But documents obtained by The New Zealand Herald last week show the country's Major Events Development Fund rejected an application for this year's Auckland Nines because "the timing of the Nines would have a negative impact on the Wellington [rugby union] Sevens". Yes, other reasons were given, including the fact that the Nines would make a profit anyway, But still ...