NRL players are exploiting a loophole in the current video refereeing procedure by deliberately obscuring would-be tries from television cameras, according to Melbourne winger Sisa Waqa.
The Fijian international had a crucial no-try call go against him in last Friday’s qualifying final, before a sickening fall after an aerial collision ended his evening prematurely.
“I got the ball down, I definitely scored the try,” Waqa tells Fairfax Media. “As soon as I got the ball, I went straight to the ground.
“But they said it was no try and when they went upstairs, they couldn’t see so unfortunately they didn’t give it to me.”
As was the case for a Steve Matai “try” in round 23, the on-field official ruled “no try” because he couldn’t see the ball on the ground – and the eyes in the sky disallowed it for the same reason.
Because the benefit of the doubt rule does not apply in the same way it did until this year, players can simply position their bodies between the ball and the television camera and it will be impossible for an on-field decision to be overturned.
“Everyone does that,” says Waqa. “I grounded the ball but the defenders get around it and block the view so they can’t get a good look at it on the ground.
“It’s a tough one. I don’t blame them. I would do the same thing in that situation.”
Waqa wasn’t sure of a solution to the trick. “They used to have benefit of the doubt but I think they changed that so that it was more clear-cut, the referee on the field said what he thought,” he added.
The ploy by defenders, usually in the case of attackers chasing kicks, puts the onus on the on-field official to almost guess whether the ball was grounded safely. If he guesses wrong, inconclusive video evidence means his colleagues in the grandstand cannot correct the decision.
Waqa, meanwhile, is gearing up to take on a good friend in his 50th first grade appearance – Newcastle flier Akuila Uate.
“He is on my side of the field. We are good mates,” said Waqa. “We spoke only last week. I played with his brother, Pana, in school. He was a very good player.”
Waqa has one appearance for the Fiji Bati to his name and hopes to add to that tally at the World Cup. He says Uate believes he can also play for his homeland, despite changing his country of election to Australia since the 2008 tournament.
“Aku can play for Fiji, yes,” said Waqa. “He is going to wait and see if he makes the Australian side and if he doesn’t, he will try to play for Fiji.
“I’d like to go to the World Cup but I have to get through the season with the Storm injury-free first.”
He’s confident the Storm will bounce back from last week’s defeat on Saturday at AAMI Park. “Souths didn’t beat us, we gave that game away,” he said.
Filed for: THE AGE