Rugby League

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Trial games thumbs up for referees

REFEREES boss Daniel Anderson said NRL coaches were ''comfortable'' with the way the pre-season trials were officiated after the final coaches meeting before round one.

Anderson met with most coaches at Rugby League Central on Tuesday afternoon to go over footage of the trial matches and clear up any confusion before the season opener next Thursday.

''When I walked out I got the feeling they were all pretty comfortable with the way we handled things in the trials,'' Anderson said.

''They seemed pleased with the way we've been consistent with the application of the new rules and interpretations. We showed vision of the trials and that showed that the rucks are cleaner. We are grateful for the effort the clubs went through in the trials. There was very little obstruction problem. I was wrapped, personally, in the way they played.''

The coaches in attendance did raise concerns over the number of penalties that were awarded during the pre-season trials, with an average of 15 penalties a match.

While Anderson said referees would continue to crackdown on infringements around the ruck that impede the speed of the play-the-ball, he believes the trial penalty figures are not a true reflection of the way games will pan out during the season proper.


''You've got to remember there are a lot of young kids, not just first-graders, playing in those matches,'' he said. ''The young kids don't have the discipline of the NRL players. They aren't exposed to the ruck style that we're used to.''

Shoulder charges and the obstruction rule were also topics of discussion. But perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the off-season overhaul in the refereeing ranks for the coaches is the introduction of a former player in the video referee box.

Luke Patten made his officiating debut in the Charity Shield clash between St George Illawarra and South Sydney on Friday night, with more former players to sit in the box at selected games this season.

''Luke thought it was quite exhilarating,'' Anderson said. ''I don't think there are any serious flaws in the whole video referee model.''