Jared Maxwell, the head of officials, has dismissed claims from Ricky Stuart, the coach of Raiders, regarding the questioning of his authority following a contentious match in Canberra that culminated in a loss for the Canberra team to the Broncos.
Stuart was considerably upset with a penalty decision against Hudson Young in the 74th minute for pushing Selwyn Cobbo away from the ball. Despite Stuart’s belief that the contact was quite light, this ensued the Broncos‘ field goal, eventually leading to a seven-point lead.
The NRL is still inspecting Stuart’s post-match claims, however, Maxwell has been emphatic that his authorities haven’t been undermined at any point this season.
Maxwell wasn’t exactly certain of the context of Stuart’s accusations post-match but reasserted his role as an integral part of the elite football department, striving to meet game expectations and ensure entertainment value.
Graham Annesley, NRL head of football, was equally confused by Stuart’s insinuations, asserting that the match officials were not coerced to adjudicate games in a particular manner by the Rugby League Central body. He definitively stated that the referees operate independently of the administration.
The referees’ decisions, he emphasised, are made in alignment with the given directives and it was Jared’s responsibility to enforce them.
Both Maxwell and Annesley affirmed that Adam Gee, the referee, made the correct decision penalising Young in the Saturday game following a cue from his linesman who picked up on Young’s line alteration to block Cobbo.
Cobbo, the Brisbane player, had to adjust his path to reach the ball due to interference from Young. The Raiders challenged the decision but the Bunker upheld it as Young was observed to be focussed on Cobbo and impeding his free run towards the ball.
Maxwell asserted that Young failed to fulfil his two responsibilities, running straight back towards the ball and assuming his position early. The light contact on Cobbo was not the primary determinant of the penalty, rather it was Young’s failure to perform his duties which needed to be assessed. This led to the enforcement of the penalty kick.
The responsibility would then be on Cobbo to manoeuver around Young if he had taken his position earlier. This standard had not been met leading to the decision for the penalty. The emphasis was on Young’s preceding run and not the minor contact with Cobbo.