Brad Fittler wants to see more control of the game given back to referees and has urged them to be more ruthless.
The NRL released a statement on Wednesday, reminding match officials, clubs and players of the need to adhere to rules, with referees to be especially vigilant regarding continuous or deliberate tactical ‘six-again’ breaches.
Speaking in response to the NRL’s message, Fittler said the league needed to give control of the game back to the officials and away from the players.
“I think what they’re doing this week is obviously a reaction to coaching,” he told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports Radio.
“If people want to break the rules deliberately, then you’ve got to allow the referee to control the game. Penalise them, sin-bin them, do whatever you’ve got to do.”
Fittler laid the blame at the foot of the NRL’s coaching fraternity when it comes to deliberate breaches of new rules, such as the ‘six-again’.
“Every time you change a rule, the coaches are sitting in a room saying, ‘Well how can we abuse this rule? How can we use it to our advantage?’, so you’ve got to just let the referees take control,” he said.
“Don’t make it black and white, let them take control. If they feel like someone’s ripping the game off and ripping the fans off, then sin-bin them or penalise them, do whatever it is to make them realise that there is a set of rules, people pay to watch this and you’re not going to break them, (say) I’m in charge, not you.
“The coach will turn his tactics around pretty quickly. I think what has happened is we’ve changed rules and we make it black and white and we’ve stopped allowing referees to be in control.
“Let’s just give the control to the referees and if someone’s ripping the game off, boot them off.”