Greenberg won’t axe the bunker. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Greenberg won’t axe the bunker. (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

Kent: Time to revive captain’s challenge

TODD Greenberg is muttering nonsense.

His defence of the bunker during a Triple M interview with Matty Johns was full of bluff and balderdash.

Johns asked if there was a chance the NRL bunker could be scrapped.

"That's not going to happen Matty and can I tell you why," he said. "Because the weekend had nothing to do with the bunker - it had everything to do with human error."

In one of those unfortunate turn of events, a quick check revealed the bunker is unable to be operated without a human involved.

Fair to say Johns already took that into account when he asked Teflon Todd the question, which reveals his response to be nothing more than a slick PR answer designed to answer the question without ever really answering it.

In another Triple M interview on Saturday referees boss Bernie Sutton must have mentioned the phrase "human error" forty times.

Clearly Sutton and Teflon Todd are reading off the same script and it's rule is simple: Blame the least among us.

So on Tuesday night, with a tidy cleaning of the hands, head referee Gerard Sutton was relegated and pocket referee Gavin Reynolds and linesman Rick McFarlane got sacked.

It was a gutless, uninspiring decision, a symptom of the management not leadership governance at NRL headquarters.

Following Teflon Todd's slick sidestep, Johns simply pointed out that the referees were still getting it wrong despite the multi-million technology.

Ricky Stuart sums up the mood for NRL fans. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Ricky Stuart sums up the mood for NRL fans. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"I wouldn't agree with that," Greenberg said.

"In fact I can tell you that we're getting more decisions right now than we ever have."

And on it went, more PR guff designed to settle the masses.

What got through last week was the howler. The mistake. The NRL has no explanation for it other than "human error".

Hard to argue. We all make mistakes. The irony is the howler is what the bunker was introduced for in the first place.

Every weekend tries go to the bunker with no clear vision revealing what happened.

We know as much. The commentators are arguing among themselves whether, for example, the tryscorer retained the ball or knocked it on.

If they can't decide, how can the bunker convince every fan their decision was right?

But we all recognise the howler. And when the howler gets through we can't escape it.

Is there a better alternative?

Sione Katoa crosses for his controversial try. (Brett Costello)
Sione Katoa crosses for his controversial try. (Brett Costello)

Fans are in support of the captain's challenge and it has a lot of merit despite opposition from the NRL coaches.

The coaches' opposition to a captain's challenge is they might use up all their challenges on what would ultimately be frivolous challenges and not have one up their sleeve for the howler.

Most would say that is the team's fault. It certainly would not be the NRL, where public faith lies, or the bunker's fault.

When the captain's challenge was last voted down by the coaches Craig Bellamy stood afterwards and said, "Can we finally get that off the agenda once and for all?"

Coaches are the smartest people in the game. They watch more video and understand the game better than any other stakeholder in the game.

But their opinions can't be trusted because they have vested interests.

The game is trending in a direction far away from its simple roots because for too long the NRL adhered to the selective wisdom of the coaches.


It was a bitter pill for the Raiders. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
It was a bitter pill for the Raiders. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)


You could argue the current system favours the better teams, like Bellamy oversees, by virtue of the fact they are better at applying skills than their opponents.

They are more likely to get it right so, over time, they are statistically more likely to come out in front.

Limiting the bunker might reduce that.

The question the NRL refuses to engage in is whether the bunker is ultimately there for the fans or the teams?

The beauty in the captain's challenge is Friday's decision most likely would never have happened if the challenge existed.

Cronulla scored a try and Sutton sent it up as "no try". He mistakenly believed there might have been a knock-on.

Given the Cronulla players also saw McFarlane's flag go up, though, and saw the Canberra players stop defending because they were playing to the whistle, it's highly unlikely Cronulla would have been prepared to waste a challenge on a call to see it dismissed.

And right there is one advantage of the captain's challenge.

So the bunker would never have been given the opportunity to stuff it up.


How will the NRL respond now? (AAP Image/Simon Bullard)
How will the NRL respond now? (AAP Image/Simon Bullard)


Some will argue if Sutton had sent it up as try the howler would still have happened. But to Teflon Todd's point: human error.

The captain's challenge will not fix every mistake.

But by being used less it will stop some decisions ever having to be made. For the fan's sake, that should be all that matters.

Teflon Todd and his NRL speak of accountability, in all their PR guff, without ever taking ultimate responsibility.


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