NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has defended the Referees and Match Review Committee, claiming there will never be a match between the two.
After a series of incidents over the past few weeks, the heat was firmly on the NRL to root out the perceived inconsistency of players being charged or not charged.
In round 19, Dale Finucane was not penalized by officials for his accidental headbutt to Stephen Crichton, but was indicted by the Match Review Committee the next day and banned for two weeks.
Storm enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona was not indicted by the Match Review Committee or penalized on the field, despite an ugly elbow that shattered Wayde Egan’s teeth in round 20.
It has prompted a plethora of criticism from fans, pundits and former players around the whole process – but according to Abdo the two entities cannot be compared.
“Rugby league sometimes focuses on what’s wrong and not what’s right,” he said 100% footy.
“Obviously if you look at the stats we can always improve and keep getting better – but how can you ever get a match between what’s happening with the referees and the match report?
“By definition they are different – referees react quickly to things that are in front of them. The Match Review Committee is a body that has the opportunity to reflect on the incident from multiple angles for 24 hours and then take a considered view.
“I know what the fans want, I know what everyone wants – a reasonable level of understanding.”
Patrick Carrigan and Nathan Cleary were both hit by serious suspensions ahead of the final, while Dragons forward Tariq Sims will not play again this year after a high shot at Connor Tracey despite only being trapped by the referees.
But across the board, foul play has been reduced since the NRL’s crackdown in 2021, Abdo says.
“I think we still have work to do, but I actually think we’ve come a long way,” he said.
“This is one of the cleanest seasons we’ve had in years. Overall foul play has gone down but we still see some nasty incidents that we want to take out of the game.
“We are moving in the right direction. There will always be disagreements, but in the modern age we also have to be careful.
“Players defending must exercise the necessary caution not to put themselves in a situation where they can do something that is against the rules and results in a serious injury.”