Confused Orcas set to miss out

Last updated 00:00 13/08/2007

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Wellington Orcas manager Peter Mellars is bemused by what he describes as a New Zealand Rugby League shifting of the goalposts, which appears to have denied his Bartercard Cup side a playoffs berth.

New Zealand's premier domestic rugby league competition has changed its top-five playoff system to a top-four format this season, but the message seems to have been lost in translation.

The Orcas are fifth with one round to play and now need to beat second-placed Harbour League and hope seventh-placed Waicoa Bay Stallions upset fourth-placed Waitakere Rangers this weekend to clinch a spot in the semifinals.

"There's a lot of confusion," Mellars said. "Everyone I've spoken to believed it was top-five and somewhere, after the competition started, it's been changed. None of us have been officially notified."

Mellars conceded yesterday that the competition handbook did indicate the change, but he expected to be verbally or electronically informed.

"We don't mind (the change) but at least say at the start of the season so in terms of goal setting, we all know what we've got to head towards," he said.

"It's not as professional as what we'd expect.

"There was no official e-mail or communication with us to let us know what the hell was going on and it appears talking around the traps that other people have experienced the same sort of nonsense as well."

But NZRL general manager Peter Cordtz denied Mellars' claims, saying each of the Bartercard teams had been informed of the change of format.

"Prior to the start of this season we had a gathering of all the franchises in Auckland and gave them all the format for the year," Cordtz said.

"It was always going to be that way prior to the season starting. I know we indicated it was top-four."

Cordtz said the Orcas may have simply forgotten that the changes had been made.

"With those teams sitting in the cluster below fourth place, and the Orcas are obviously amongst that group, it becomes a reasonably important consideration for them but Peter Mellars was certainly at that meeting up here."

The Bartercard Cup is to be scrapped next year.

Melbourne five-eighth Greg Inglis has escaped a charge for an alleged grapple tackle, with the NRL match review committee citing just one player from the weekend matches.

Roosters hooker Heath L'Estrange has been charged with a grade one dangerous throw on Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah.

Inglis was penalised for a grapple tackle on Brisbane five-eighth Greg Eastwood in the 68th minute of the Storm's 14-6 win on Sunday. But he was not cited over the incident. AAP

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