Adrian Lam urges RFL to pump more money into officials’ pathway: ‘It’s an area where we need to invest’

Ben Olawumi
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Photo: Steve Flynn/News Images

Leigh Leopards head coach Adrian Lam wants those in charge of the game to invest more into the officiating pathway following the news that every Super League game will have a video referee from 2024.

It was confirmed earlier this week as part of the new TV deal that from next year, every top tier fixture will be televised. Accordingly, every game will have an extra official in place, and vitally, the extra technology most have been crying out for.

At the minute, based on the information available via the RFL’s website, only nine officials are appointed on a full-time basis.

Those include the more recognisable names of Chris Kendall, Ben Thaler, and Liam Moore. But, crucially, only one of those nine were born after the turn of the millennium, with Liam Rush recently turning 23, and that’s the glaring issue Lam has highlighted.

Lam urges RFL to bring younger officials through more readily

Speaking in the build-up to his side’s trip to Hull KR this evening, the Leopards boss said: “I think the referees that we’ve got are great, but in my opinion, and I do have a strong opinion about this, I think we need to invest money into the officials and the refereeing side of things in the sense of giving younger people an opportunity to become referees.

“We need to give them more of a pathway, an area where we can make our referees better through a full-time programme. That’s not being critical of the referees, I think they’ve done a great job, but what I’m saying is that in the NRL and in every professional organisation, your whole refereeing staff should be full-time.

“By being full-time, you get 80 hours of education and you go to the next level with it. It’s an area where we need to invest as a sport into our officials and our adjudicators, that’s for the better.

“I just think it’s an area where if we can take it to the next level supported by the video ref, it can only help our game.”

Leopards coach looking forward to new system in 2024

Not having a video referee at every game has been a subject of debate in the game for many years, with overwhelming suggestions that the current format – with it only at the selected televised games each week – isn’t right.

It’s no surprise that a move towards a setup like the NRL then, where they do have it at each game, is one that’s been welcomed with open arms by an overriding majority. Lam is no different, and just wants the game to keep pushing on.

He added: “Whatever makes our game better and gets the results right more often, it’s going to serve us to a tee.

“There’s been some results this year where [with a video ref] it could’ve been a different outcome, but let’s just look forward and let’s look towards all the good things ahead – that’s certainly one of them.”

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