Fans’ Poll: Why it’s time for the NRL to allow the Bunker to rule on forward passes
The fans have spoken and they’re sick of forward passes going unchecked – The Daily Telegraph’s 2020 Fan Survey has revealed a clear majority of punters want to give the Bunker the power to intervene.
Nick Campton , The Daily Telegraph
September 30, 2020 7:14pm
The fans have spoken and it’s time to bunker down on forward pass howlers.
The 2020 NRL Fans’ Poll, run in conjunction with nrl.com, has revealed punters are sick of forward passes escaping the Bunker’s examination with more than 77 per cent of voters agreeing the video referee should be able to intervene.
Forward passes are one of the few areas of play exempt from video referee scrutiny and it’s thrown a spanner in the works more than once in 2020.
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Cody Walker feels as annoyed as the fans after a forward pass call.
The most notable case came in Round 4 when Manly were denied victory against Parramatta after the Sea Eagles were denied a fair try in the dying seconds in the match.
Of the fans surveyed, 42 per cent believe the Bunker should only rule on forward passes in try scoring situations.
The major innovations introduced under ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys’ administration — the move back to one referee, the six again rule and the captain’s challenge — all got a big tick from the fans.
More than 81 per cent believed the six-again rule was good for the sport and 94 per cent want to retain the captain’s challenge.
On the whole, fans attitudes towards referees seem to be improving — 68 per cent rated their performance as a three out of five or higher
ORIGIN SCHEDULE SHAKE-UP
The traditional mid-season State of Origin series could be under threat if NRL fans get their way.
The Origin series has long wreaked havoc with the NRL competition, diluting the quality of teams as it’s played between matches over a six-week period in the middle of the year.
But fans have had enough and thrown massive support behind a stand-alone series.
More than 37 per cent of respondents backed playing the series after the regular season, while 34 per cent supported playing games during a stand-alone period in the middle of the year.
Just 28 per cent of fans want to keep the traditional format of playing in between club rounds.
The COVID-19 lay-off has forced the NRL to reschedule the 2020 series, forcing it to the end of the season for the first time.
Fans have given Queensland little hope of ending NSW’s two-year winning streak, with just 20 per cent voting for a Maroons series victory.
They did, however, give the Sunshine State a boost in regards to expansion, with 52 per cent voting to increase the number of teams, with Brisbane the most favoured destination (23 per cent) ahead of Perth (21 per cent) and the NSW Central Coast (13 per cent).
An end-of-season Origin has the fans excited.
GRAND FINAL FIRST, DAYLIGHT SECOND
After 20 years of night or twilight grand finals the appetite for a return to an afternoon kick-off remains hearty with 42 per cent of votes keen for a return to the traditional start time.
Sticking with an evening grand final attracted 25 per cent of the vote while a twilight grand final pulled in just over 30 per cent.
The last daytime grand final was played in 2000 with the NRL going with a prime time kick-off ever since, with the exception of 2008-12 when it was moved to a 5pm start.
The NRL’s plan to redevelop suburban grounds also got a tick of approval from the fans with over 85 per cent of voters backing Peter V’landys plan to revamp the game’s traditional venues.
After Bankwest Stadium topped the vote for the best stadium to watch a match in last year’s poll, pulling in 46 per cent of the vote, the message is clear – the fans want more suburban footy.
It’s a breath of life for beloved venues such as Leichhardt Oval, Lottoland and the rest of the game’s spiritual homes.
FANS IGNORE FREDDY’S NOFOALUMA SNUB
Snubbed by Freddy but loved by the fans, Wests Tigers star David Nofoaluma has received some consolation following his State of Origin slight.
A controversial omission from Brad Fittler’s train-on squad on Monday, fans have voted Nofoaluma a runaway choice as the best winger of the season.
In a hot field in the 2020 NRL Fans’ Poll, run in conjunction with nrl.com, 26-year-old Nofoaluma claimed 35.41 per cent of the vote.
He finished well ahead of veteran winger Brett Morris (24 per cent) and polled more than twice as many votes as incumbent Blues winger Josh Addo-Carr (15 per cent).
The Tigers flyer was controversially overlooked for Brad Fittler’s State of Origin train-on squad despite putting together the best season of his career but if the fans had their way he’d be lining up for the series opener in Adelaide on November 4th.
Nofoaluma ran in 17 tries for the 11th placed Tigers and lead all wingers in hit ups, metres gained and tackle busts.
David Nofoaluma has been rewarded for his great season.
PANTHERS DOMINATE ACROSS THE PARK
Elsewhere it was a Panthers landslide with the runaway minor premiers claiming four positional awards in the team of the year.
Among an outstanding crop of young centres, Stephen Crichton landed 20.36 per cent of the vote as the game’s best in 2020, beating home fellow young guns Kotoni Staggs and Zac Lomax.
It’s a changing of the guard with veterans Josh Morris, Jarrod Croker and Michael Jennings all making way for the new generation.
Viliame Kikau (35 per cent) was a runaway winner for best back-rower, Api Koroisau (34 per cent) pipped Cameron Smith (29 per cent) for best hooker while Isaah Yeo (17 per cent) very nearly toppled Cowboys star Jason Taumalolo (19 per cent) as the game’s premier lock.
The fans also voted Koroisau as the best buy of 2020, Ivan Cleary as the best coach and Penrith as the team most likely to win the premiership.
But the biggest winner of all was star halfback Nathan Cleary. Not only did the 22-year old win best halfback in a canter, pulling in a whopping 78 per cent of the vote, the fans also crowned him as the game’s best player in another rout.
Cleary’s excellent form in steering Penrith to the minor premiership had him win 47 per cent of the vote, almost more than double runners up James Tedesco (12 per cent), Cameron Smith (6 per cent) and Luke Keary (6 per cent) combined.
His father Ivan was a clear winner for coach of the year but Gold Coast mentor Justin Holbrook was a worthy runner up after the Titans’ five-match winning streak to end the season.
TITANS’ STUNNING TURNAROUND
Twelve months ago fans were split on whether the Titans should remain on the Gold Coast. But now they have rallied behind rookie coach Holbrook in a stunning turnaround.
Respondents in the 2020 NRL Fans’ Poll have voted Holbrook as the second-best coach this season behind Penrith’s Ivan Cleary, while North Queensland juggernaut Jason Taumalolo retained his title as the game’s premier lock.
While Panthers mentor Cleary polled 29.54 per cent of the vote, Holbrook was clear second pick at 16.93 per cent, ahead of the likes of Craig Bellamy, Trent Robinson and Wayne Bennett.
After winning just three of their first 12 games, the Titans finished 2020 just two points outside of the top eight and will welcome David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui next season to a team already boasting the services of Moeaki Fotuaika, AJ Brimson, a rejuvenated Ash Taylor and big improver Jamal Fogarty.
In last year’s poll, 51 per cent of fans voted in favour of relocating the Titans, calling it a franchise doomed to fail.
The Titans are on the charge.
ROCKIN’ THE SUBURBS
There has been an overwhelming wave of support for the NRL’s suburban ground policy change, giving hope to the likes of Brookvale Oval, Leichhardt Oval and Jubilee Oval for the future.
More than 85 per cent of respondents backed the NRL’s decision to develop suburban grounds instead of relocating matches to bigger stadiums.
The fans’ support comes a year after the 2019 survey where newly built Bankwest Stadium was voted far and away the best NRL ground in the country.
V’landys has made improving suburban grounds a priority since taking over last year.
“Having families in Sydney attend suburban grounds is imperative to the future popularity of the game. That’s what tribalism is about,” V’landys said.
“Suburban grounds have an important role to play and should be upgraded for today’s entertainment venue standards.”
V’landys has pushed for the government to upgrade Campbelltown Stadium, Panthers Stadium and Jubilee Oval.
2020 NRL FANS’ POLL FULL RESULTS