NRL head of footballl Todd Greenberg admits Sunday’s timekeeping bungle at Brookvale shows why big games need to be moved away from surburban grounds.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg says Sunday’s timekeeping bungle at Brookvale Oval shows why big games need to be moved away from suburban grounds.
The NRL has made no secret of their desire for more matches in Sydney to be played at ANZ Stadium and Allianz Stadium.
Sunday’s incident where the timekeeper failed to hear or see the match referee Matt Ceccin call “time off” with 50 seconds remaining after Manly scored a late try to beat Penrith infuriated the Panthers.
“We have made our intentions pretty clear that we have great difficulty at suburban venues and that was highlighted again on the weekend,” Greenberg said.
“The timekeeper can’t physically see part of the ground, through the sidelines, and then with people standing up.
“It’s exactly why we are looking to move to bigger stadia for the bigger games.
“It’s a great challenge at those venues and we experience that in real time. We are playing at grounds that don’t have modern facilities.”
Despite the controversial finish the match was arguably the best of the season between two high-flying sides in front of a packed crowd – something that’s been the exception rather than the norm in the NRL this year.
Greenberg conceded it was important for the game to keep in touch with its roots but at the same time ensure such embarrassing problems do not keep arising.
“People say it is great to have that suburban aura, Sunday afternoon at Brookvale was awesome,” he said.
“But it presents a challenge to the modern day game for match officials and it’s a fine balance.”
There have been at least three timekeeping issues this season, but the most high-profile was during last year’s qualifying semi-final between Cronulla and North Queensland at Allianz Stadium.
In that game the match clock differed from the time shown on the stadium scoreboard and the official broadcast of the match.
It left players, supporters and officials in a state of confusion as Cronulla won the game.
But Greenberg said measures have been put in place to prevent a repeat performance.
“We will be playing finals in major stadia so that certainly helps,” he said.
“We’ve already announced a review into the tech opportunities for us to align all our time clocks with broadcasters and the game itself and the video screens.
“That’s something that will happen (at all venues) but that is at a significant cost.
“But we’re very confident, we are into the finals and we are ready to go.”
Penrith five-eighth Jamie Soward on Tuesday came up with a novel suggestion to help timekeepers by taking a leaf out of golf’s book.
“I think they (the NRL) are already talking about fixing it up, they are going to get those little people at the golf with the ‘shoosh’ signs,” Soward said.
“That should help us next time when we’re in a tight game like that.
“The refs will then be able to hear and 18,000 fans would have to be quiet.
“They can make a call and say ‘quiet please’ and that way we won’t lose 50 seconds off the clock.”