Leeds coach Brian McDermott has revealed his unhappiness at being informed Friday’s World Club Challenge with Melbourne will be officiated by two referees just 48 hours before kick-off.
McDermott says that Leeds had agreed to play the game under international rules before departing for Australia – which would have meant the standard one referee system used in both international and British rugby league fixtures.
However, the Super League champions were told on Wednesday the game is now being officiated under the two-referee system seen in the NRL: and McDermott could not hide his feelings about that decision.
“It’s not good,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in this from the NRL, but their competition plays with two referees and ours plays with one. There’s been all sorts of dialogue about whether Super League should move to two so therefore, we know about it, and we know the pitfalls of it, but I tell you, we’re not happy that this has almost been forced upon us.”
McDermott insisted Leeds have nothing to hide in terms of anything a second referee could pick up from their style of play, but added they had agreed to play under another system before arriving in Melbourne.
“We agreed some parameters in England about how we’d play the game,” he said. “We’re playing with 12 (subs) instead of 10, and the term that was always used was ‘international rules’. International rules mean you play with one referee but we’ve been informed today we’ll play with two. We’ve got nothing to hide and I don’t think the second referee will find any cynical play out of us, but I hope they don’t showcase two referees and it becomes a penalty-ridden game.”
There is some good news for Leeds, however. Forward Brett Delaney is likely to be passed fit for Friday’s game – while half-back Joel Moon could also be available after missing the win over Hull KR last week.
“Brett has passed his checks with the specialist,” he said. “He’s been given the green light, and Joel Moon hasn’t trained so far this week as he’s still having some issues with his back – but we expect him to play.
“Moony is one of those players who doesn’t need a whole raft of training behind him; there’s no guarantee he will play but we’re hopeful.”