NRL: Refs could ruin grand final - Fittler

Billy Slater scored a contentious try for Melbourne in the side's victory over Manly on Friday night. Photo / Getty Images
Billy Slater scored a contentious try for Melbourne in the side's victory over Manly on Friday night. Photo / Getty Images

Rugby league great Brad Fittler fears it's almost inevitable that another contentious video refereeing decision will decide Sunday's NRL grand final.

Fittler says the "benefit of the doubt" option available to video referees is a ridiculous blight on the game after it once again had fans scratching their heads on Friday night.

Continuing a season of controversy for the television match officials, video referees Russell Smith and Sean Hampstead awarded Billy Slater a try despite replays appearing to show the Melbourne fullback lost control of the ball over the line.

The Storm's 40-12 rout of Manly ultimately spared the NRL yet another major embarrassment - but the dubious decision didn't escape Fittler.

The former Sydney Roosters and Penrith premiership winner said the onus was on referees' bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper to ensure the season decider between the Storm and Canterbury wasn't ruined by a ghastly mistake from officials.

"Everyone said all year one of these (video refereeing) results could decide a grand final and, you know what, you're thinking it will," Fittler said on Nine's Wide World of Sports program on Sunday.

"It just seems as though (there is) so many parts of our game where those words "benefit if the doubt" can affect it.

"So hopefully Bill and Stuart Raper can sort the situation out before the weekend."

Fittler admitted video referees were under immense pressure, but said the benefit-of-the-doubt ruling needed to go.

"To their defence, there is so much going on with our video replays and how good our televisions are, our cameras and all that, it is tough for them," Fittler said.

"So to compare them to the past is a bit crazy, but the fact that 'benefit of the doubt' sits in our game is ridiculous."

Meanwhile, ARL Commissioner Wayne Pearce said the current state of refereeing will be addressed at the end of the season.

"The whole refereeing challenges that have faced the code this year, and there's been a number of them, needs to (be addressed) and will be addressed at the end of the season," Pearce told ABC Radio's Grandstand.

"And the management team's spoken about that."

- AAP

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