An end-of-season review by NRL coaches has delivered a surprising result, with a number of high-profile mentors telling the ARLC that they want a second referee back in the game.
According to NewsCorp, Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, Canberra Raiders boss Ricky Stuart, South Sydney's Jason Demetriou, coach of the year Todd Payten and new Sharks mentor Craig Fitzgibbon are among a number of coaches in favour of the return of a second official.
The results come as the NRL completes a review process with all 16 clubs about the season just gone, with the calls for a second referee becoming a ‘consistent topic'.
The two-referee system was originally initiated in 2009 but was scrapped three years ago due to primarily financial concerns during COVID.
Asked about the matter of a second official, Demetriou replied that “if it means the bunker stays out of the game unless it's try-scoring, then yes.”
Among other coaches, Parramatta's Brad Arthur claimed he was “happy either way”, while St George Illawarra's Anthony Griffin answered the question of whether he was a fan of two refs with a simple “no”.
The Telegraph spoke to another coach, who wished to remain anonymous but was in favour of a return to the two-official system believing it would ensure standards can be maintained during the game, making fitness more of a factor.
“Two referees – the number one referee stays on the ruck and the second marks the 10 metres,” the coach said.
“With two referees that 10 metres can be interpreted as 13 at the start of the game.
“What that does is bring fatigue into the game. Sides can't afford to put three or four defenders into a tackle because if they do… they can't get their defenders back into the line to get the balance.
“With that there are less injuries and concussions. Sides have to make a choice. Some clubs make more two-man tackles because they want to protect the integrity of their defensive line.
“By the time players jump and fudge defensively, ten metres in our game is five metres. They are up to six metres before the dummy-half picks up the ball and passes. Keep them 13 or 14 metres apart with a second referee (and) it's a wonderful game.”
A number of other points were discussed during the review, including the captain's challenge and finding ways to stop teams from deliberately conceding off-side penalties from scrum losses.
The NRL will collate all data from the review before presenting the data to ARL Commissioners.