Rugby League: Third official to rule on borderline calls

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THE GREEN LIGHT has been given to a new cricket-style system that will allow an off-field official to rule on controversial decisions in televised rugby league cup ties, starting with this weekend's matches.

The official will have access to the BBC's range of camera angles for slow motion replays in order to decide on whether a try has been scored. A green light will mean yes; a red, no try.

The League's director of referees, Greg McCallum, said that the system had already worked well in other sports, including rugby league in Australia. "We are always keen to use the available technology to enable us to reach more accurate decisions," he said.

The referees' development manager, Geoff Berry, will be the man in charge of that new technology when it is used for the first time in the Challenge Cup tie between Leeds and St Helens on Saturday.

The Great Britain winger, Anthony Sullivan, will not be involved in that match, following the decision of the St Helens coach, Ellery Hanley, to leave him out after his recent forays into rugby union. Saints' football manager, Eric Hughes, said: "Ellery feels that Anthony has had a lot on his plate recently with playing for Wales."

The Leeds coach, Graham Murray, has made one enforced change for the tie, bringing in Martin Masella for the suspended Barrie McDermott.

The League's chief executive, Neil Tunnicliffe, has reassured supporters that the tri-series in which Great Britain are due to play in Australia and New Zealand this autumn will go ahead. Doubts were cast earlier this week by reports in a Sydney newspaper that the chairman of the NZRL, Gerald Ryan, said he had not seen a business plan for the tournament and would prefer a series against Australia.

"This is part of an international calendar that was drawn up in August and ratified in December," Tunnicliffe said. "It is hard for us to see how anyone who was party to those decisions can be in any doubt about the international calendar at this stage."

Tunnicliffe is to meet the other members of the International Federation, including Ryan, in Sydney on 9 and 10 March, but said: "This is a decision of the International Federation that went through the due process and I don't anticipate any volte face."

Michael Smith has been reprieved by Hull, who cancelled his contract after he was seen in a night club before their Challenge Cup defeat at Castleford. The New Zealander has been fined pounds 5,000 - pounds 2,500 of it suspended - and put on three months' "probation" by the club.

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