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Harrigan schools refs on obstruction

Referees coach Bill Harrigan has given NRL match officials a crash course in the workings of the obstruction rule after admitting to a number of crucial refereeing blunders on the weekend.
Harrigan schools refs on obstruction
by NRL

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, Aug 20 AAP - Referees coach Bill Harrigan has given NRL match officials a crash course in the workings of the obstruction rule after admitting to a number of crucial refereeing blunders on the weekend.

After a review of round 24, Harrigan said on Monday that video referee Sean Hampstead's highly controversial decision to award Canterbury's Johnathan Wright a 74th minute try against Wests Tigers was wrong because of illegal use of a decoy runner.

"It shouldn't have (been awarded), we made a mistake there, got it wrong," Harrigan said.

"But I would like to say from the word go that you can run around your own player in some instance on a football field but in this instance it was wrong."

In an official video posted on the NRL website Harrigan attempted to clarify to fans, players and coaches alike how the obstruction rule will be policed in the final two rounds of the premiership and during the finals series.

Harrigan said he had called an emergency meeting of his entire refereeing squad in an attempt to ensure refereeing controversy does not overshadow the NRL's key end of season games.

"I'm not happy that I have to come out at this end of the season and admit that we have made mistakes," Harrigan told NRL.com

"Today I have had all the referees and the video referees sit down and we have gone through a lot of our obstruction calls.

"We have worked hard to get clarity in what we are doing so there will be no confusion, when we go into round 25 and 26 and then on into the semi-finals, between the referees and video referees.

"We all know what we are doing, that was the objective of today, to make sure we do the work so that when we walked out of that room today we all knew exactly where we all stood when it came to block runners and obstruction plays and that we go out there and we try to get it right."

Harrigan maintained his referees had made the correct decision on the weekend's other main point of contention regarding obstruction - a 59th minute try to Gold Coast's Steve Michaels in their win over Parramatta.

"That was given a try, that was correct," Harrigan said.

However the former grand final whistleblower did admit to another error - accepting that video referee Paul Simpkins' decision to award a 37th minute four-pointer to Melbourne's Sisa Waqa in the Storm's defeat of Brisbane was the incorrect call because the winger had knocked the ball on.

"Unfortunately we got that one wrong as well," Harrigan said.


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