Roosters coach Trent Robinson was left frustrated by the bunker’s decision.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson was left frustrated by the bunker’s decision. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Time for a change with the bunker

DURING the first few weeks of the NRL bunker, I deemed it the best thing since sliced bread.

But nine weeks on it has become a millstone around the neck of the NRL. And unless the powers-that-be soon alter their head-in-the-sand attitude, the bunker could be the ruination of our great game.

Let's be frank - the players, the coaches, the officials and the fans have had a gutful of the bunker.

What was once the greatest game of all - warts and all - is becoming a civil war. The bunker has created an 'us against them' mentality, and the 'them' is well and truly the people pressing the buttons.

Despite my great passion for the game, I have never done a coaching course or studied for a referee's ticket. But after a lifetime of following rugby league, and almost four decades of covering it as a journo and a commentator, I reckon I have a fair grasp on what the game is about.

These days though, more often than not, I have no idea what the ruling will be when the on-field referee asks the bunker to 'check for obstruction'. Common sense is being replaced by black and white rulings. No longer is the referee - apparently - permitted to follow his gut feeling.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson has been vilified for his outburst on Anzac Day after his side dead-set received the rough end of the pineapple.

A couple of rulings against the Roosters were horrors, and may well have cost them a vital win.

But while Robinson was expressing years of frustration and obviously grinding an axe against referee Ben Cummins, the one salient point he made was that the bunker had become a pseudo match review committee.

Those in the bunker, and not the referee, are deciding whether a player should be placed on report, which has major ramifications on the day. And more often than not the bunker officials have proved to be wrong - as they were last Sunday with Dylan Napa.

As Robinson correctly stated, the bunker is making a decision on the fate of players in a few seconds, whereas the match review committee pores over footage for hours.

There is no doubt the bunker has become an intrusion.

In the initial stages the response to a query from the on-field official was concise, and it was - seemingly - almost always correct.

That is no longer the case.

Only time will tell if the public attack by Trent Robinson has a consequence on how the bunker now operates.

Hopefully those pressing the buttons will not be as intrusive, or as infuriating.

And if that happens, we should all chip in and help the Roosters pay their $40,000 fine.