Penrith supremo Phil Gould has branded Grant Atkins “not a good referee” for his failure to halt play when North Queensland pair Nene Macdonald and John Asiata were floored in a serious collision.
Atkins drew the ire of the league last Friday night after failing to pull up play when Macdonald suffered a fractured and dislocated ankle against Melbourne, forcing his teammates to battle for 53 seconds with two men down and the game in the balance.
Play on: Cowboys duo John Asiata (left) and Nene Macdonald are attended to after their brutal collision last Friday night.Credit:AAP
After Cowboys coach Paul Green described the handling of the incident as an “absolute debacle” that threatened “player welfare”, the NRL moved to demote Atkins and fellow referee Gavin Badger before round six.
However, Gould argued the situation could have been avoided.
“I guess the honesty game with the two referees … as to whether or not they knew there was something wrong back there and ignored it, that’s really the point,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy on Monday night.
“Grant Atkins is potentially a very good referee, [but] he’s not a good referee because he interferes with the game, he follows what we call process; he doesn’t use discretion or have a feel for the game.
“This is a perfect example of him saying ‘the process is this, therefore I didn’t have to stop the game’, where common sense would have told you that if he was aware that was a serious injury, they needed to stop the game whether process was being followed or not.
“This is how these referees have been educated for a long period of time and we need to get them out of it to have a feel for the game and read the game.
“They need to re-evaluate the process.”
Sharks veteran Paul Gallen called for more heads to roll.
“I’m surprised they all weren’t dropped,” Gallen told 100% Footy.
“There’s touch judges there, people up in the box watching it; they could all clearly see what could happen.
“I agree first they want to keep the game flowing but you’ve got the doctor on the field with his hand out.
“The referees have lost that personality and relationship with the players. You got to talk to them sometimes as a captain … these days there’s just no relationship; it’s just a blank ‘no’ because they’re following a process.
“I think it’s up to referees to get more personal … they got to get some feel for the game.”
Scans later revealed Macdonald suffered a fracture and dislocation of his left ankle that could rule him out for up to six months; Asiata escaped with a hyperextended elbow.
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