2018 hasn't been a vintage year for referee performances in the NRL. There have been a number of controversial decisions made over the first two-and-a-half weeks of the competition. Coupled with a surge in penalties based on a crackdown on offside and play-the-ball penalties and you're left with a frustrated viewing public.
Personally, I don't mind the slew of penalties blown for cheap, easy penalties that were perhaps let go in the past. At the end of the day, teams will do anything and everything in their power to get an edge and if that means a quick play-the-ball that isn't up to scratch or sneaking a yard or two or five in front of the referee when you're under the pump defensively, I don't mind this being targeted in an attempt to clean up the game and, ultimately, provide a more open and expansive game once teams get their head around it.
Clearly, though, mine is not an opinion shared by all. That's fine. Rugby league is, at its very heart, the sort of game that divides opinion and feeds off an intense tribalism. We'll agree to disagree on whether or not the crackdown by the whistleblowers is fair dinkum, or it has gone too far.
Whistleblowers under the pump
What cannot be denied, however, is the intense wave of criticism that referees have received so far and how quickly that has intensified on the back of two questionable decisions across a pair of Friday night games in round three.