Queensland coach Wayne Bennett has expressed grave concerns over the Australian Rugby League�s decision to introduce the �golden point� rule to Origin football following the rule's spectacular failure on the weekend.
After Manly took home the two competition points via a Ben Walker penalty in extra-time, referee�s boss Robert Finch has conceded the penalty should never have been awarded.
The Eagles were awarded an offside penalty by referee Steve Lyons in the seventh minute of the added period, but Finch has stunned many in the league community by admitting the penalty against Eels� winger Matt Petersen from a kick-rebound, was wrong. He also said had Lyons not been unavailable due to a calf injury it is likely he would have been dropped from first grade.
The controversy comes as somewhat of a vindication for Bennett, who has not wavered in his condemnation of the rule despite coming in for heavy criticism from several members of the NSW media.
"I said all along that this rule was introduced only after a group of people got together at a meeting and started feeling all warm and fuzzy about things," Bennett said.
"Well, the warm and fuzzy feelings have worn off quickly and reality has set in".
"Right from the start we've been saying the guy under the most pressure in all of this, aside from the fatigued players, is the referee. I said that at two different stages and that's the way it's turned out".
"He's the one who's copping the criticism today. The love didn't last long once they started looking at the video tapes".
�The first referee to make a decision in the first golden-point period has got it wrong and has been hung out to dry".
"What sort of message is this sending to the referees? Referees make mistakes in every game but it looks like they're going to be dropped if they make them in golden-point territory".
"Why would any referee in the future make a decision in extra time? If they get it wrong, they'll lose their job so it will be easier and safer for them not to make any decisions.�
The man who has steered the Broncos ship since 1988 says the incident sets a bad precedent leading into the game�s showpiece event � the State of Origin.
He believes that with the extra pressure and pace involved in Origin clashes, referees will struggle to maintain their peak concentration powers into an extra-time period, which under the ARL�s rule, will continue until a winner is found.
"This doesn't bode too well for Origin, does it?" he said.
"I fear the worst, I really do.�