Rugby League – Bunker Not Helping Itself

Canberra Raiders v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Canberra sees Tyrone Phillips tackled by Shannon Boyd and Sia Soliola. Photo: Rohan Thomson The Canberra TimesThe NRL’s Bunker has copped all kinds of criticism so far this season, but over the weekend, all I could do was shake my head.
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At that stage, a ball hadn’t even been kicked in anger!

Sunday footy at Canberra saw the up-and-down Raiders against the up-and-down Bulldogs.

Since you couldn’t really say with much confidence what either team was going to do, it looked like a pretty good game to watch.

And then, we found out who was in the hot seat in the Bunker.

I was blown away!

Here we have a game involving the Canterbury Bulldogs and we have one of the best Bulldogs players of the modern era holding down the fort inside the Bunker.

I speak of none other than Luke “The General” Patten.

Patten played for the Doggies for many years, even winning the 2004 Grand Final for the “Family Club” from Belmore.

So, with this knowledge, I wondered whether the NRL had ever heard the phrase “perception is reality”?

You see, if Patten is asked to adjudicate on a contentious call and goes against the Raiders, despite the final decision being the correct one or not, he could be hauled over the coals simply because the “perception” would be that he has given his old team a helping hand.

And sure enough, there was one.

Halfway through the second half, Raiders excitement machine Blake Austin made a break and was eventually brought down right at the tryline.

In my opinion, Austin appeared to lose possession of the ball before he got to the in-goal, but the slo-mo replays suggest there may be more to it.

Is he actually short? When did he actually lose the ball? Is there still some form of contact when he gets to the line?

The on-field referee has said that he thinks it is a try (considering I don’t think it’s a try I think the on-field ref is having a guess) before sending the decision to “The General” to have a closer look.

In these cases, the man in the Bunker needs conclusive evidence to overrule the on-field referee.

So, “The General” looks at several angles. The slo-mo frames go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

After a minute or so, The General has come up with his decision – NO TRY!

Now, I actually agree with his decision to call it a no try, but incredibly that isn’t the point in this case.

The point is that Luke Patten should not be put into any position where he is forced to adjudicate on any team that he once played for.

In the interests of not only protecting Patten from unwarranted attacks on his credibility, the NRL should have the political nous to understand that if they keep Patten away from Doggies games (and Dragons games as he started his career at the Steelers/Dragons) they are actually protecting themselves as well.

You know, for an organisation as big as it is, you really have to wonder what’s going on when something as simple as this is being overlooked.

Luckily for Patten and the NRL, the Raiders ended up winning the game. Otherwise, we would’ve heard a lot more about “The General” seemingly protecting his own.

And if we’ve learned anything over the years, Ricky Stuart is one of the best when it comes to airing grievances during a press conference.

So I guess, this time, it ended up being a win/win.

The Raiders eventually went on to win the game, and Sticky kept his $10,000 for a change.

But it could have been very different.

In this day and age, perception truly is reality.

And the NRL needs to smarten up before this really blows up in their face.

This article first appeared on TopBetta

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