Dumped NRL referees boss Stuart Raper admitted he was concerned about successor Daniel Anderson’s new tackle count system before it spectacularly failed in North Queensland’s controversial finals loss.
And Raper conceded scrutiny over Cronulla’s now infamous seventh-tackle try would only add more pressure on whistleblowers in the NRL finals but was confident mistakes would not determine the 2013 premier.
Raper and Bill Harrigan were let go as NRL referees co-coaches after a controversial 2012 season was capped by Manly scoring off an undetected Kieran Foran knock-on, which contributed to knocking the Cowboys out of the finals.
Twelve months later Anderson is feeling the heat after the tackle count system Raper claimed was introduced this year let North Queensland down in their 20-18 loss to Cronulla.
Raper admitted he had a problem with Anderson using a system in which referees used different methods to count tackles rather than verbalising every one.
Anderson has since reverted to referees calling out each tackle after sacking all six officials responsible for last week’s debacle.
“That concerned me when they changed it because you need to communicate in the ruck,” Raper told AAP.
“I thought they were going to have a drama with it.
“It is the first thing the referee should be doing, counting tackles.
“They don’t make basic errors like that anymore in refereeing, because usually there are fail-safe mechanisms.
“I can’t remember the last time a seventh tackle try has occurred in a game.”
Raper admitted more mistakes would be made in the NRL finals but did not believe teams should be nervous that a referee could cost them their season.
“It (seventh tackle try debacle) puts a lot of pressure on the referees,” Raper said.
“Everyone is worried a bad call can dictate a game but it is very rare such a black and white call goes against a team.
“A lot of people say they have been dudded by the referee but usually they are matters of opinion, grey areas.
“There are still going to be disputed calls and referees will make errors in those grey areas.
“But teams should not be nervous of a basic error happening again.”
Raper said he felt for the Cowboys but believed the refereeing howler did not cost them the game.
“It was a bad decision by the referee but there was 73 minutes left of football,” he said.
Raper rated the seventh tackle fiasco “worse” than the 2012 Foran knock-on now dubbed the “Hand of Foz” which sealed his fate as NRL referees co-coach.
But he believed the refereeing standard this year was “at the same level” as 2012.
“People might laugh because I was involved in it last year but at the end of the day the referees are still doing a pretty good job,” he said.
“Last week they made one error in the whole game.”