BACK FROM THE WILDERNESS: Clarence Valley product Anthony Don has been named to start on the wing for the Gold Coast Titans in their Friday night clash against North Queensland Cowboys when the 2020 NRL season resumes this weekend.Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt
BACK FROM THE WILDERNESS: Clarence Valley product Anthony Don has been named to start on the wing for the Gold Coast Titans in their Friday night clash against North Queensland Cowboys when the 2020 NRL season resumes this weekend.Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt

FROM THE GRANDSTAND: One ref, six again? Here’s what Col thinks...

FINALLY we have kick-off this weekend, and there will be many relieved faces I am sure.

It means socially we are getting back to normal and it will be so good to see some live sport and lift the spirits of most in the house. Even “her indoors” will be free to watch Antiques Roadshow or something without someone grumbling about what isn’t on TV.

Let’s give credit where it is due. League for once is the envy of just about every sport in the nation and overseas.

They were very ambitious to nominate a starting date in May but with a lot of hard work and collaboration with government authorities they have pulled it off.

• ROTHFIELD: 20 reasons why I’m excited about NRL restart

You can’t but admire the leadership of new chairman Peter V’Landys. He and his team have pulled off the impossible.

Will it be a tainted premiership? Far from it. Opinion was divided between The Daily Examiner journalists last week (Behind The Desk, 22/5) as to whether there would be an asterisk next to the 2020 premiership.

They overlooked one very important point in my opinion. This year for the first time in decades, the season will not be “interrupted” by Origin fixtures. This means that for six weeks in the middle of the season, the best teams will not be without their best players.

Doesn’t that make for a fairer result? It does for me.

What about the new rule changes? I applaud them, both of them. Opinions are divided of course.

I spoke with well-respected local coach Col Speed who said that he can accept the one referee but not the six again call.

I can afford to be more opinionated than usual on this matter. I coached league for more than 20 years at under-18 level as well as refereed for 10 years and a brief stint on the referee’s appointments board with the NRRRL.

So here’s my thoughts ...

All the referees have spent most of their careers doing games single-handedly anyway. No big deal there. They learnt their trade as one referee.

It has been a “distraction” for some having another person so close looking over your shoulder and passing judgment on decisions.

Look back at all those international matches in recent years, including the World Cup, the games were no worse because only one referee officiated.

The second ref was brought in to control the ruck areas initially, and only that pocket area. This shouldn’t be an issue with the “six again” call invoked regularly.

It’s a much easier decision to make, and less distracting, instead of giving a penalty, which is still an option remember, particularly in close games. It will keep the game flowing for sure.

I can just hear Cameron Smith telling the referee “we want the penalty sir” towards the end of a tight match.

Like everyone else I cannot wait for some live sport.

I am reminded of Tom Keneally’s words when his poem introduced the season some decades ago: “blow that whistle ref ”.

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR:

• From the Grandstand: Round ball game a step ahead

• CRICKET BYGONE? Col lauds our forgotten heroes

• TOP 10: Col’s favourite sports biographies to read in iso

• From the grandstand: Are NRL players victims or villains?



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