SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 15: NRL head of elite football operations Graham Annesley speaks during the 2019 State of Origin series launch at Bradfield Park on May 15, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Graham Annesley has confirmed the bunker being able to rule on forward passes will be up for discussion at the end of the season.

The NRL's head of football spent around ten minutes during Monday's weekly footy briefing talking to a missed call during Saturday evening's preliminary final, which saw the Brisbane Broncos book their spot in the grand final with a convincing win over the New Zealand Warriors.

The game was shrouded in controversy though after a blatantly obvious forward pass was let go by referee Gerard Sutton, with Brisbane extending their lead to 28-12 after halftime on the back of it.

Annesley confirmed on Monday that it was a forward pass, and that it was able to be confirmed because of the position of it against where cameras were stationed.

"It is a forward pass. The reason we can tell so accurately is that it's close to the halfway line and the cameras are all close to the halfway line," Annesley said during his footy briefing on Monday.

"I'm not going to dwell on it. It's clear that it's a forward pass and missed by the officials, but just so that we can't be accused of owning this decision, we are going to run through it."

There were also some suggestions that the next pass - from Selwyn Cobbo to Jordan Riki - was also forward, but Annesley said that was far tougher to rule on.

"We did look at it [the second pass] this morning, but I think there is a lot more doubt about that one," Annesley said.

"You can see the relationship between the two players. It looks a lot worse when a player gets hit in a tackle and you can see here that as the ball is passed, they keep moving forward. That is much, much more difficult to say it's a forward pass."

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys said over the weekend that whether the bunker could rule on forward passes in the future will be reviewed at the end of the season.

Technology has also been explored by the NRL over the potential of ruling on forward passes, but Annesley said the game isn't yet comfortable with that.

"I think it's up for discussion. All Peter said over the weekend was that we will examine it at the end of the year, look at it as part of our review of the season, and that is absolutely the right thing to say," Annesley said.

"Everything gets reviewed at the end of the season. I think Peter was specifically talking about some of the more obvious forward passes.

"There well may be a way of coming up with a process... For example at the moment when a try is sent to the bunker and the bunker can't determine whether the ball has hit the ground or not, then the on-field decision stands. There may be some sort of system, but we haven't discussed this internally at all.

"It will be part of the end of season review, as will any aspect of our game that is controversial.

"We have looked at various technologies and we aren't comfortable that those technologies will neccessarily solve the problem, or will perhaps even give us other problems by calling out other passes that don't look forward but the technology says they are."

Annesley stopped short of saying the decision would rule Gerard Sutton out of contention for a grand final refereeing position, suggesting all finals series officials are in contention, with the appointment to be announced on Tuesday.


  1. Easy solution…4 touch judges divided into two halves of the field…that way they should be inline with every play unlike now where the game has got too quick for the current crop of touchies…..NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

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