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Forward pass conundrum: cameras show conflicting views

NRL head of football Graham Annesley initially believed a forward pass call against Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes last Friday had been wrong and a review appeared to confirm his opinion.

However, another camera angle taken from the opposite side of the field at AAMI Park later supported the decision to rule against Hughes in the 15th minute of Melbourne's 22-8 defeat of South Sydney.

Annesley showed the conflicting footage during his weekly football briefing on Tuesday to demonstrate why using video to rule on forward passes was not a solution unless the Bunker had access to better technology.

"My initial reaction both watching the game and again when I looked at it this morning was that the touch judge got this call wrong," Annesley said.

"This is exactly the same footage from opposite sides of the field and both present quite a different picture of what took place.

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"From the angle on the main camera side you would say that is probably a wrong call by the touch judge, but this is the same pass from the other side of the field, [taken] from a backpack camera.

"There's Hughes, his hands appear to be facing forward and it appears to be caught in front of him. That's what the touch judge saw and that is the decision that the touch judge made.

"It is obviously a very close call but from one viewing you would suggest it is just plain wrong; on this viewing you would have to say I am not so sure any longer.

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"That's the conundrum we would face if the video referee was ruling on forward passes at the moment with the technology that we have available."

Debate about the use of video for forward passes was reignited after last Saturday night's incorrect ruling that cost Manly winger Reuben Garrick the match-winning try in the final minute of the game against Parramatta.

Fox Sports had a tracking camera on the sideline nearest to where Tom Trbojevic passed to Garrick that showed the pass had been delivered back out of hands but travelled forward, as is allowed.

Touch judge Liam Kennedy drew his conclusion after Trbojevic's momentum was halted in a crunching tackle as he delivered the pass and Garrick received the ball in front of him touch judge.

A similar incident in Melbourne, in which Josh Addo-Carr received the ball several metres in front of where Cameron Smith had delivered the pass was never questioned as the Storm captain continued running.

That call was correct, but Annesley asked whether fans and commentators would have had a different view if Smith had been stopped at the point where he delivered the pass and had been behind Addo-Carr when he caught the ball.

That's the conundrum we would face if the video referee was ruling on forward passes

NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley

While broadcasters have begun using a tracking camera on one side of the field, Annesley said the NRL did not expect Channel Nine or Fox Sports to provide infrastructure to help officiate the game.

The NRL is monitoring the development of limb technology, which may assist in determining the direction a pass came out of a player’s hands when delivering a pass.

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