New NRL referees' boss promises clarity

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 21:24 16/01/2013

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Newly-appointed NRL referees coach Daniel Anderson has promised coaches, players and fans will have more clarity over the obstruction rule this season.

Former Parramatta and Warriors coach Anderson has replaced Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper following a number of high-profile errors from officials last year and vowed to reduce the number of grey areas that have surrounded the game.

Obstruction was one of the biggest talking points last year, with clubs such as Canterbury taking full advantage of the interpretation of the rule to score tries with players running behind their own teammates.

Queensland centre Justin Hodges also scored from a similar play when he darted behind prop Ben Hannant in the State of Origin decider in Brisbane which left NSW fuming as they slipped to a seventh straight series defeat.

Anderson met with 15 of the 16 NRL head coaches at Rugby League Central in Sydney on Wednesday, with Newcastle's Wayne Bennett, who was announcing his team for the annual All Stars game in Brisbane, the only absentee.

The meeting also saw discussion about the outlawing of the shoulder charge and how it will be adjudicated by officials.

However, obstruction was the big topic of the day and Anderson said a DVD would be delivered to coaches and the media before the start of the pre-season trials to clarify the grey areas in full.

But he conceded that there would still be some controversy surrounding the ruling next season.

"We have put in some parameters that will encapsulate a high percentage of the review decisions, but there will always be scenarios outside the rules and regulations," Anderson said.

"But we're doing our best to get as many as we can and get some clarity for coaches.

"It doesn't matter what model you you put in. The game has that much athletic ability there is always going to be things you don't envisage or legislate for.

"We're looking to get 95-99 per cent of them so fans can look at a game and say: 'That should be obstruction or that is not obstruction.'"

Anderson said there was no opposition from the clubs about the outlawing of shots to the head, but plenty of discussion about the banning of the shoulder charge.

"Attacking a player's head brought no debate but the shoulder charge was dealt with," he said.

"You have to use your arms, but there were not many shoulder charges in 2012.

"It's not coached by anyone and I wouldn't be surprised if it disappeared naturally. We still have the collision aspect of our game but we've got to be wary of not making contact with the head."

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Manly coach Geoff Toovey said he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and felt it was more than worthwhile.

"We got a bit of closure around the obstruction stuff, it was good," Toovey said.

"There was a lot of headway made. I think they've made their point clear about what is obstruction and what isn't.

"The rules were a bit out of tune with how the game has gone and they've made a bit of tweaking."

- AAP

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