Boyd Cordner Josh Hodgson and Jarrod Croker during the 2019 Grand Final.
Boyd Cordner Josh Hodgson and Jarrod Croker during the 2019 Grand Final.

Legend says ruck will become ‘a dog’s breakfast’ with one less NRL policeman

PENRITH Panthers great Mark Geyer holds grave fears for how the ruck is policed if the NRL goes through with its push to return to a one-referee model.

Peter V'landys is attempting to cut $2.5 million in costs with the shift to one referee, but Geyer believes the on-field spectacle will suffer.

"We've got to really be careful," Geyer said.

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"The game has totally outgrown one referee. The ruck area is the area of the game that needs most policing yet we are taking the 'police' away.

"The first thing people do when authority is removed is they try and bend or break the rules and I'm just worried the ruck area will become like a dogs breakfast."

Geyer asked former NRL CEO Todd Greenberg last season if the game would return to one referee, after some favourable reviews of the international games that still use just one on-field official.

"The simple answer is no there is no consideration to go back," Greenberg said at the time. "Look if you talk to any modern day player what they will tell you is the moment you take the pocket referee away there will be more wrestle in the game.

"I talk to a lot of people and I don't see anyone that wants to see more wrestling."

Geyer believes clubs will immediately try to exploit the lack of a pocket referee and the ruck will be difficult to police.

"What happens with rule changes is that clubs, coaches and captains get together and they say ok how can we manipulate this," Geyer said.

"I just think taking another pair of eyes away is going to put more pressure on that one referee and on another note you are going to have a lot of refs out of work as well."