AHEAD OF this week’s derby with Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos boss Dave Furner has confirmed he is “not against” the prospect of two referees in Betfred Super League matches from next year.
Furner and his former Wigan Warriors team-mate Chris Chester, Trinity’s coach, covered a wide range of topics at a press conference to promote their sides’ meeting at Emerald Headingley in two days’ time.
The Rhinos chief confirmed he has been in touch with Rugby Football League referees’ boss Steve Ganson to discuss controversial calls which went against Leeds in last Friday’s 27-22 loss at St Helens.
Furner also attended a meeting with Ganson and some of his top referees yesterday and said: “There’s a bit of clarity on some rules that may be a bit different to NRL, just getting that understanding. There’s a couple of things I asked about.
“I wasn’t happy [on Friday], but it’s very easy to point the finger. I think as a game as a whole we’ve got to encourage the referees and look after them.
“There’s accountability on coaches, accountability on players and accountability on referees, which needs to be in the right forum. I am not completely happy yet, but I’ll clear a couple of decisions and then just move on. We can’t change [what happened last week].”
Of the possibility of two referees, a system used in the NRL, Furner added: “The games here are fast and the rule changes are trying to speed the game up. When it first came into Australia I was a bit sceptical, but certainly while the speed of the game is going in that direction I wouldn’t be against it.
“I think we need to judge it at the end of the season, there’s no use jumping on it now, but you want to look at how you can improve the product. I wouldn’t be against it if it makes our game better.”
Meanwhile, Furner has ruled out a move for New Zealand and Samoa Test prop Sam Kasiano who is understood to be available because of Melbourne Storm’s salary cap situation. He said: “I am happy with what we have got at the moment.
“One of the names we were linked to is Kasiano, but that’s not right. At this stage here my focus is on the team I’ve got and having a look at the strengths and weaknesses. I think the pleasing thing is the way the squad has been adapting to some change, on how we train and how we play.
“That’s my focus at the moment. It is all about learning. Last week we probably let ourselves down in a couple of areas and Saints were able to take advantage of that, but I really liked the first half, how we fought our way back into the game and got some points on Saints. We were unlucky in a few areas, but if we can improve on that each week I’ll be very happy.”
Rhinos and Wakefield will both go into Friday’s game with only one win to their credit this year, but the rival coaches feel they are each making progress. Leeds led 22-10 at half-time against Saints and Furner is looking for them to build on that performance.
“It has been like that from round one,” he said. “In pre-season a lot of training goes in, but until you are into the competition and into the grind you’re not sure how you’re team’s going. Our first four games have been nice and tough and last week was a pretty physical game. That’s all I ask from the players, just to keep improving.”
Friday’s game is Rhinos’ first competitive fixture at Headingley this year after four on the road.
“We knew what we were in for,” Furner stressed. “But it will be great to come back to Headingley. We are expecting a very good crowd and a very good game. Chezzy has done a great job with Wakefield. I watched their game last week and they were unlucky against Saints the game before. I think it’s going to be a terrific game.”
Trinity are on the back of a 22-10 home victory over Catalans Dragons last Thursday. Chester reflected: “I think we’ve been good the last couple of weeks. At this time of year it’s all about trying to get some points on the board. We won ugly last week and I’ll take an ugly win this week as well.
“I have been impressed with Leeds; they have had it tough in the first four rounds, but last week they were very unlucky not to come away with a result.
“We know there’s not a great deal in the two sides, it’s a local derby, our boys will be up for it and I’m sure Dave’s will be too.”
Marquee signing Konrad Hurrell is becoming a major threat for Rhinos and Chester warned: “He is a big human being!
“I have been really impressed with him and Trent Merrin and Tom Briscoe who has been carrying the ball really well. They look like they’ve got more structure than they’ve had in recent years and they are good to watch.
“It is going to be a test for us from one to 17.
“They are a team that’s playing well, they will be disappointed to only have that one win, but they’ve been in every game they’ve played and they’ve had the rough end of the draw.
“It is going to be a great game and I can’t wait.
“I always enjoyed playing at Headingley and I enjoy coaching there as well.”
Chester confirmed forward Pauli Pauli is available following a knee injury, but insisted: “It is going to be very hard for me to change a great deal from last week.”