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NRL players back coach's challenge
Joe Barton
15:45 AEST Tue Jul 31 2012
Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan.
Sharks players will back coach Shane Flanagan in his bid to have a "coach's challenge" implemented.

Cronulla players will support coach Shane Flanagan in his quest to have a "coach's challenge" implemented for contentious refereeing decisions.

The Sharks have twice been on the wrong end of officiating blunders this season, costing them victory against Wests Tigers in round one and Penrith on Saturday night.

On both occasions, they lost by a field goal in golden point and referees' bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper admitted crucial errors in the final moments of each match which went against the Sharks.

Against the Tigers, Cronulla were incorrectly penalised for being offside off a charge-down on the play before Benji Marshall's field goal - and Harrigan admitted that on Saturday, Penrith's Lachlan Coote had been offside when he grabbed a charge-down.

Coote's dash downfield eventually led to Luke Walsh's match-winning one-pointer.

It prompted Flanagan to call for an introduction of an NFL-style challenge, where a coach would have the ability to challenge dubious on-field decisions - with the call then reviewed by the video referee.

And Flanagan has the support of his playing group, who are devastated by how much impact refereeing howlers have had on their season - if Cronulla had won both games in which they were dudded, they'd be sitting on 29 points and contending for the minor premiership.

"It is devastating," prop Andrew Fifita admitted when asked about the match-changing decisions.

"... I reckon I'd be a fan of (the coach's call)."

Hooker Isaac de Gois also supported the innovation, lamenting the fact there was no avenue for the Sharks to take in their two heartbreaking losses this season.

"If it's like the NFL where, if you correctly challenge, you get the challenge back, then it's a good idea," de Gois said.

"If it's a crucial time in the game and a crucial call, with the final play, then you want to get the right decision.

"It's disappointing to have decisions go against you. But there's obviously nothing you can do about it."


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