Over the past 18 months a new habit has emerged.

A lazy, one size fits all excuse for every single loss, no matter how bad.

Blame the refs!

NRL coaches, players and fans alike are so quick to nitpick one moment, or a series of decisions, and claim the officials cost them the game.

Straight up, I am prone to putting refereeing decisions under the microscope. Not so much the on field whistle blower but more-so the bunker.

My tolerance for errors drops dramatically when you have 15 HD screens, 30 replays and all the time in the world to make a decision yet still get it wrong.

That is another argument though for another day.

Here we sit (at the time of writing) the afternoon following a brilliant game of rugby league.

A two-point victory attained by the travelling underdogs, and thanks to Knights coach Adam O'Brien, all fans are talking about is one referring decision made in an 80 minute contest.

Not the fact that Newcastle were unable to beat a side missing millions of dollars of talent, at home.

The most contentious moment is undoubtedly the decision to not penalise, and then sinbin, Fetalaiga Pauga in the final moments.

For the record, I would have blown a penalty. I would have sent the youngster to the sin bin.

Just as I would not have penalised Victor Radley earlier for "obstructing" the defensive line despite the Roosters gaining no advantage at all.

What is to say that the Roosters don't score from that play and put the game beyond the Knights?

If the late Newcastle penalty had been awarded, the Knights may kicked the goal. They may have gone on to win the game.

You know what would have won the game?

If any Newcastle player had followed Ponga and been there to support him. Or if any player had followed Adam Elliott when he looked certain to score late on.

Should either of these things have happened, the Knights score untouched and are celebrating a brilliant, late win.

Or perhaps if Jayden Brailey didn't kick into the markers but instead spread the wall wide, where the Knights had numbers and a backline set.

The point is, Newcastle had numerous opportunities to win this game. A game they entered as massive favourites.

I fully understand fans need to pass the blame to anyone other than their heroes, but I am so sick of coaches playing victim in press conferences.

Again, my frustration would be at my players inability to follow their captain on that fateful play.

I suppose it's easier to blame someone else than address the real issue. After all, it has become the norm now.

I literally sit and wait for coaches to cherrypick a moment to throw the officials under the bus, even on the rare nights where they do get it right.

Trent Robinson, just last week, tried to frame that his side was hard-by despite his side trailing the Bulldogs by 26 points at halftime.

He tried to infer Dominic Young was on the end of a rough decision despite the winger clothes-lining Blake Taaffe and knocking him clean out with a high shot.

I've recorded segments surrounding Ricky Stuart's ridiculous press conferences.

He side can lose by 40 and he'll still find a way to pass the buck. I am convinced it's a joke within the Raiders brass to see how ridiculous an excuse he can offer up only to not be called out by his mates in the media.

Please do not get me wrong. Refereeing howlers have decided games. Officials make mistakes.

All the time!

Few will forget the Tigers being robbed of a victory in Townsville due to one of the most blatantly horrible refereeing decisions in modern times.

It just doesn't happen every single week.

In my mentions on X (formerly Twitter) right now I have fans of the Knights claiming they were robbed. I also have fans of the Roosters saying the only reason Newcastle got as close was due to the referees.

This has become a habit. Almost part of the culture.

'Oh, in the 32nd minute a pass looked to have gone forward. Cost us the game!'

'We may have lost by 40 but the penalty count was lopsided so obviously the referee had it out for us.'

The NRL should consider implementing a rule. $5,000 fine for every time you blame a referee in a press conference.

They could start a special account and NRL coaches can fund the 18th team entering the competition, with money left over.

Adam O'Brien is far from the only one. He's just the most recent, probably until Friday night's games anyway.

Fans, stop cherry picking moments to claim your side was hard done by. Especially when it's fans of both sides in the same game!

NRL coaches, stop being lazy. Turn the torch on your players.

It's habit. It's lazy. It's not always the referees fault!