NEWCASTLE’S dead-rubber game against St George Illawarra at Kogarah Oval on Saturday will becomea historic occasionin which a“captain’s challenge” system will be trialledin the NRL for the first time.
POINT OF CONTENTION: Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson and referee Gavin Badger debate a decision earlier in the season. Picture: Getty Images
Neither the Knights, who are distant wooden spooners, nor the Dragons can make the finals, so NRL officials decided it was an opportune time to experiment.
If it receives widespread approval, the NRL will consider introducing it for all games next season.
Similar referral processes have been used in international cricket, tennis and hockey for years.
Under the experimentalrules, each captain will be allowed to challenge refereeing decisions relatingto tries only.
The referees will be required to make a decision on the field, and it will be reviewed by the bunker only if a challenge is made.
Each team will be allowed one challenge per half, which isretained if it is upheld upon review.
Hence, until a challenge is overruled, a captain theoretically has unlimited opportunities to query try-scoring decisions.An additional challenge will be allowed for each team in the final fiveminutes of the game and in golden-point extra time.
Knights chief executive Matt Gidley said his club welcomed the chance to be involved in the test case, adding optimistically: “We don’t plan on conceding any tries this weekend, so hopefully we won’t need any reviews.’’
The referees in charge of handling the landmark trial will beHenry Perenara andMatt Noyen.
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg insisted no decision had been made with regards to introducing the system for the long term.
“If it’s successful, we will look at it to maybe put into the game next year,” Greenberg said.
“I’m not saying it’s definitely coming through but we’re very hopeful of the concept …the bunker gives us the opportunity to trial the captain’s challenge with state-of-the-art technology to help determine whether a try has been scored.
“We will assess the trial to determine if there is scope to use the captain’s challenge more widely in the future.”
The initiative will be also used duringthe National Youth Competition (under-20) play-offs.
“We trialled this in the 20s for a number of years but we didn’t have the technology to support it,” Greenberg said.
“Now we have the technology to use.We’ve been working on this quietly for a couple of months and we’re ready to trial it.’’
In Saturday’s game, the video-review bunker will continue to be used for 40/20 rulings, goal-line drop-outs and 20-metre restarts, reportable foul play, double knock-on rulings and to determine which team touched the ball last before going over the touchline.