FURIOUS Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington has accused the NRL of moving the goalposts to help ensure the World Club Challenge trophy returns to Australia.
Rhinos were shocked to be told yesterday that Friday’s match against Australian champions Melbourne Storm will be controlled by two referees.
That is the system used in the NRL, but not in Super League or for Test matches and Leeds have never played in a game involving two men in the middle.
Hetherington says Leeds were expecting the fixture to be played to international rules, with one referee, and he slammed the ruling as a “ridiculous decision”.
The Leeds chief is also upset that Rhinos were told at such short notice, with only one training session left before the big game at AAMI Park.
He fumed: “The World Club Challenge has always been played to international rules.
“For the NRL to move the goalposts at 48 hours’ notice and after no consultation is totally arrogant and simply not on.”
“We have protested to the NRL because there’s no reason to do it,” he said. “It had been agreed between Melbourne and ourselves and with the involvement of the NRL, two months ago, confirming international rules.
“To do it at such late notice, with no consultation with ourselves and for no reason, it can only disadvantage ourselves – who are not used to playing with two referees – and help Melbourne Storm, who are.
“One can only suspect the NRL are desperate to see the World Club title return to Australia.
“Wigan beat Cronulla last year and we are extremely keen to bring it back to England. This decision is extremely disappointingbut will not derail our determination to bring the trophy back to England.”