The Broncos protest the referees call in sin binning Matt Gillett. Image: Channel 9
The Broncos protest the referees call in sin binning Matt Gillett. Image: Channel 9

Tony Durkin: Time to sin bin NRL’s whingers

REFEREE Ben Cummins made an appalling blunder on Friday night when he sin binned Matt Gillett.

But to his credit, he manned up, admitted his mistake and apologised to the Broncos back-rower.

And that's a greater compliment than I can pay Brisbane's Jack Reed and a few other NRL players from the weekend round.

The manner in which Reed remonstrated in the face of Cummins following his controversial decision was a disgrace, and is one of the reasons our referees have seemingly lost total confidence in their jobs.

Sure Reed and the rest of the players were confused by, and upset at, the decision.

Clearly Cummins made an error.

But no amount of complaining from them was going to change the decision.

Rugby league players - and at many levels I'm reliably informed - have much to learn from their rugby union counterparts.

Like most sports-loving Aussies, I tuned into the recent Bledisloe Cup Tests between the Wallabies and All Blacks and what caught my eye was the respect those players had for the referee.

When he blew the whistle or issued a yellow card, that was it.

There was no backchat - not an inkling of dissent.

And until that level of respect for the men in charge returns to rugby league, our game will continue to cop criticism from fan and foe alike.

While Reed was totally out of order on Friday, so was Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis the previous night.

And Billy Slater's challenging of a decision on Saturday night was also out of line.

All this is merely a flow-on from what has become almost standard practice over the past few seasons.

The manner in which the authorities have permitted coaches and players to escape sanction over their treatment of referees is not only an indictment on those in charge, it seriously threatens the very fabric of a sport that dates back 106 years.

Almost every time a try is scored now and there is the slightest hint of doubt, before making his decision the referee with be accosted by protesting players with arms flailing and intimidating glares, virtually ordering him to go to the video.

And just as often, the referee, fearful of making a boo boo, will chose discretion over valour.

Sure it's important to get it right, but what is now becoming routine after every try is not only killing the excitement of the game, it is shattering the confidence of the referees.

No referee will ever be perfect - not in rugby league or in rugby union or any other sport.

But it's a dead-set given they will perform better without this continued harassment by players.

The solution seems fairly straightforward - sin bin remonstrating players.

And if they don't quickly get the message, their coaches surely will.