Off the Wall

The statement from the NRL effectively confirming that the Luke Douglas sending off was an appalling error actually raises more questions than it answers.

It is now apparent that the decision to send Douglas from the field was made by the referee, Phil Haines, and seems to have been AGAINST the advice of the video referee, Phil Cooley.

That may exonerate Cooley (on this one occasion) but it raises the question - what is the role of the video referee in such circumstances?

I thought, and all the commentators thought, that Haines sought the advice of the video referee - who had all the time in the world to examine the footage of the incident - and then acted on it.

But no, having sought the advice of Cooley, he then proceeded to over-rule it!

Cooley at least he had a comprehensive view of the incident. On what basis did Haines then proceed to over-rule him? After all, we now know that Cooley said the incident deserved to be put on report, and no more.

That issue is not addressed in the NRL statement conceding the decision was wrong.

It also raises this question - did he consult, and should he have consulted, the second referee Jason Robertson?

We are supposed to have the video referee to reduce bad decisions, and that is also why we have to put up with two on field referees.

Yet on this occasion one was over-ruled, and the other seemed to have been ignored! And what role the wood ducks otherwise known as tough judges had or did not have we may never know!

The whole affair is an embarrassing stuff up all around.

But it gets worse. Having conceded that Douglas was very harshly treated by being sent off, he is still being charged in exactly the same way as would have happened if he had been placed on report.

There is effectively no concession for a harsh and unjust send off!

That is why more flexibility needs to be put into the judiciary that the old rule that the judiciary could deem the send off to be adequate penalty can be restored.

Haines is a relatively inexperienced referee. But that should have made him even more cautious about overruling the video official.

He needs a spell in a lower grade - a much lower one.

And the role of the video official in such matters surely needs clarification.