Jackson Hastings has been included in Great Britain's 24-man squad for the tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The Australian-born Hastings, who qualifies through a grandparent born in Plymouth, is rewarded after a stellar season with Salford that saw him lead the Red Devils to the Super League Grand Final, though they lost to St Helens in Saturday's showpiece.

Super League's newly crowned Man of Steel could form a half-back partnership with Blake Austin, another born in Australia but available for selection via an English relative.

Wigan Warriors full-back Zak Hardaker is also among the list of names for the first Lions tour since 2006.

Saints quartet Lachlan Coote, Jonny Lomax, Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley will be on the trip too, though club colleagues Morgan Knowles, James Roby, who had withdrawn from contention before the Grand Final, Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival were all unavailable.

Coach Wayne Bennett had already confirmed 11 of the touring party through the England squad for the upcoming World Cup Nines tournament.

"It was pretty tough actually, with a lot of players in contention. A couple of guys got injured and that’s taken a bit of the pressure off, and given a couple of other guys opportunities," Bennett said.

"I think we’ve got a pretty good squad which is more than representative of the best players in the game in England and Australia."

Great Britain, who will be captained by James Graham, face a Tongan Invitational XIII on October 26 in New Zealand before a two-Test series against the Kiwis in November.

The tour concludes with a one-off game against Papua New Guinea, which takes place in Port Moresby on November 16.

 

Great Britain squad in full: James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons) Blake Austin (Warrington Wolves) John Bateman (Canberra Raiders) Tom Burgess (South Sydney) Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves) Jake Connor (Hull FC) Lachlan Coote (St Helens) Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors) Zak Hardaker (Wigan Warriors) Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils) Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters) Chris Hill (Warrington Wolves) Josh Hodgson (Canberra Raiders) Jack Hughes (Warrington Wolves) Josh Jones (Salford Red Devils) Jonny Lomax (St Helens) Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants) Joe Philbin (Warrington Wolves) Luke Thompson (St Helens) Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers) Alex Walmsley (St Helens) Elliott Whitehead (Canberra Raiders) Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra Dragons) George Williams (Wigan Warriors).

Melbourne Storm officials met Nelson Asofa-Solomona on Monday after launching an investigation into an incident involving the forward in Bali.

Footage on social media appeared to show the New Zealand international being embroiled in a street brawl at the weekend.

The NRL Integrity Unit and the Storm are investigating the incident and Melbourne will establish the facts before deciding whether to take any action.

A Storm statement said: "CEO Dave Donaghy and representatives of the club's football department staff, including a player wellbeing and welfare manager, met with Nelson in Melbourne today [Monday] as part of the club's investigation.

"Storm has provided an update to the NRL Integrity Unit. Storm will be looking at all the facts involved in this incident and will reserve its position on any possible ramifications until every aspect has been properly assessed and considered.

"The RLPA [Rugby League Players Association] has been consulted and will continue to be engaged through the process."

An NRL spokesperson said: "Melbourne Storm advised the NRL Integrity Unit of an incident involving a player on holidays Bali.

"The Integrity Unit is working with both the Storm and the player to determine what has happened. The Integrity Unit takes these matters very seriously."

Sean O'Loughlin will not be included in the Great Britain Lions' tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed.

O'Loughlin was named in Bennett's most recent training squad ahead of the four-match tour, which starts against Tonga in Hamilton on October 26.

However, the England and Wigan Warriors captain - who played in the last Great Britain side in 2007 - will not feature in the travelling party after a pectoral injury restricted him to 18 Super League appearances this term.

Tom Makinson joins the 36-year-old in sitting out the tour, having dislocated his shoulder in St Helens' Grand Final win over Salford at Old Trafford on Saturday.

"I've admired Sean as a player for a long time, and I've thoroughly enjoyed working with him with England," Bennett said of O'Louglin.

"He's been an outstanding leader of the team on and off the field, with the ability to play in any position, and his combination of skill and toughness.

"It was important that I spoke to him and we agreed on an outcome, and hopefully it will help him come back fresh next season."

James Graham seems the likely candidate to replace O'Loughlin as captain, with Sam Burgess having also pulled out of the squad due to a shoulder injury.

James Roby believes he has never played in a better St Helens side than the one that claimed Super League Grand Final glory on Saturday.

Saints beat shock finalists Salford Red Devils 23-6 at Old Trafford to secure a first title in five years and ensure a fitting farewell for departing head coach Justin Holbrook, who is returning to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans.

After dominating the regular season in 2018, Holbrook's men were found wanting at the semi-final stage, but their dominance of the competition was rewarded on this occasion as they beat rivals Wigan Warriors and Salford in the play-offs having lost just three league games all year.

Veteran hooker Roby, who made his 450th appearance for the club on Saturday, is no stranger to success with Saints, having claimed multiple Grand Final victories and a Man of Steel award in a fantastic 15-year career on Merseyside.

Asked in a news conference how the current crop compares to previous great St Helens sides he has featured in, Roby said: "I think it's hard to compare teams from different eras but, in my opinion, this team is the best for a number of reasons.

"Just the calibre of the blokes we've got. There's no bad apples, if you like, in the group. We're really strong, connected, and the work ethic that drives everything we do [is key].

"We've got a full team of grafters, really, who will do whatever they need to do to get the job done. I think that showed on the field this year. I'm hugely proud and privileged to be able to call myself the captain. To lift the trophy is a dream come true.

"At the end of the day, we deserve it. We finished the season 16 points clear, we've been so consistent, so dominant if you like, but we had to get over the line today. Luckily we did."

Props Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson played an integral role in Saints' win over Salford, the latter collecting the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the man of the match following a sensational 72-minute stint.

"I feel sweet, I feel like I could do another 72," said Thompson with a smile.

"It's just an unbelievable feeling. We've worked so hard all year as a group and we work hard every week in training. We're made up to do the job for Justin and send him home with some silverware."

Departing St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said his players deserve immense credit after they rounded off a dominant Super League campaign with a first Grand Final victory in five years.

Saints overcame Salford Red Devils 23-6 at Old Trafford on Saturday to erase the painful memories of their shock Challenge Cup final defeat in August and a semi-final loss in last year's Super League.

Under Holbrook, who will now return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans, St Helens have twice coasted to the League Leaders' Shield, finishing an astonishing 16 points clear in 2019 after losing just three games.

"I'm just so happy and proud that we got the job done," said Holbrook. "We all know the season we've had ... but we had to deliver and we did.

"I just feel satisfied. If we hadn't have won, there would have been a real hollow feeling.

"To only lose three league games all year is an unbelievable achievement. For the group to finish 16 points clear ... it was great, but we had to go out and win that to make it all worthwhile.

"Now that we've done it, I think the current group deserves so much credit. Salford's story is a great one and they played brilliantly today as well. I'm all happy for that but this group of players deserve as many accolades as they can get."

Salford coach Ian Watson was understandably proud of his side's efforts in their maiden Grand Final appearance and had no complaints over the outcome.

When a reporter suggested a number of refereeing decisions had gone against the underdogs, Watson said: "Saints were the best team. I don't want to take anything away from them. The best team won."

Having reached the Old Trafford showpiece for the first time against all odds, Salford will lose a number of key players - including Man of Steel Jackson Hastings, Josh Jones and George Griffin - ahead of the next campaign.

Asked how the Red Devils, whose last title came back in 1976, can ensure their stunning season is not a one-off, Watson replied: "By keeping the supporters - we're a club that has to rely on our supporters, [and] has to rely on local businesses to fund us going forward.

"I think it's been amazing what they [Salford's players] have achieved. It's probably bigger than just getting to a Grand Final, it looks like the boys have got people to fall in love with their rugby team again in Salford.

"Hopefully it can help to build a club from the ground upwards. The club has been clearing debts over the last few years. We're hoping that this run can try and get us on a level playing field next year so we're getting close to debt-free."

Justin Holbrook will find it tough to leave a club he loves but was proud to mark his St Helens farewell with a Grand Final triumph.

Saints ran out 23-6 victors over a resilient Salford Red Devils side in front of a raucous Old Trafford crowd, with man of the match Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley impressing.

Salford have been the feelgood story of the season but Saints' first Grand Final triumph since 2014 came as just reward for a dominant campaign that saw them finish 16 points clear in the Super League table.

Head coach Holbrook is returning to his native Australia to take over at NRL side the Gold Coast Titans and he paid tribute to his Saints players.

"It'll be hard [to leave], it's hard, I love the playing group, I love the coaches, I love the fans, but I feel content bringing the Super League trophy back to St Helens," he told Sky Sports.

Asked if there was a period in the game when he ever felt nervous, Holbrook replied: "Not really nervous, I had utmost confidence in the boys, but in rugby league you never know what will happen.

"You have to do it when it counts, and we did."

Salford star Jackson Hastings, winner of Super League's Man of Steel award, fell agonisingly short of ending his stint at the club with a Grand Final to his name.

Hastings is to join Wigan Warriors for the 2020 campaign and admitted Saints were ultimately too good.

"Sometimes dreams don't come true, they've been the best team in the competition for a reason," Hastings said.

"They started like a house on fire, we did well to get back to 6-12 but the cream rose to the top. Over the year they proved how dominant they were."

Salford coach Ian Watson added: "It's a tough one. The best team won on the night. I'm massively proud of the players, it's been a right ride."

St Helens gave departing coach Justin Holbrook a fitting send-off at Old Trafford, beating Salford Red Devils 23-6 to round off a dominant campaign with a Super League Grand Final triumph.

The Red Devils - 150-1 outsiders at the start of the season - were hoping to secure a fairytale victory after defying all expectations in 2019.

However, Ian Watson's men could not produce the greatest upset of all as Saints more than atoned for their shock Challenge Cup final defeat to Warrington Wolves in August.

Under Holbrook, who succeeded club legend Keiron Cunningham in 2017 but will now return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans, St Helens have romped to the League Leaders' Shield in successive seasons, losing just three games this term.

They were eliminated in the semi-finals last year but there was no denying the competition's standout team on Saturday as they deservedly earned a sixth success at Old Trafford.

Salford did well to only concede two tries in a frantic opening 25 minutes as their defence was repeatedly tested by the pre-match favourites.

Saints, for whom prop Luke Thompson excelled, had already threatened several times when a fine set, starting with a trademark Tommy Makinson break from deep, ended with Morgan Knowles going over from Alex Walmsley's short pass.

The pressure on the Salford line intensified following that score and St Helens crossed again through Zeb Taia after James Roby had caught Salford napping, scooting down the blindside from a scrum before producing a glorious, spinning pass inside.

Lachlan Coote converted both tries, yet the Red Devils belatedly burst into life, to the delight of their raucous support.

After Tui Lolohea had seen a fine individual effort chalked off for obstruction, Jake Bibby took a ball from Man of Steel Jackson Hastings to slide over on the left, with Krisnan Inu adding the extras.

Jack Ashworth was perhaps fortunate to escape sanction early in the second period after clattering Inu with his shoulder and then leaning his head into the wing on the floor.

Soon after, Saints were two tries clear again as Mark Percival skipped infield and put in a perfectly weighted grubber kick that he was able to dive on to himself.

That seemed to take the wind out of Salford, who found themselves further behind when Gil Dudson's high shot on Luke Thompson allowed Coote to kick a simple penalty.

By the time Coote landed another two-pointer with nine minutes left, Saints knew they had done enough to end Holbrook's tenure on a high, and Makinson rounded things off with a late drop goal.

Salford's stunning season has won them many admirers, but the biggest prize proved just beyond them.

Jason Robinson is delighted Salford Red Devils have progressed to the Super League Grand Final, even though it came at the expense of his former club.

Before going on to help England's rugby union side to World Cup glory in 2003, Robinson played league for Wigan Warriors for eight years between 1992 and 2000.

Robinson's old team finished second behind runaway league leaders St Helens in the regular season this year and defeated Salford in their first play-off match, though they lost second time around in a rematch against the Red Devils to miss out on a trip to Old Trafford.

The triumph sent Salford through to their first Grand Final, capping off a remarkable season for a squad widely tipped to finish in the bottom half of the table, and Robinson feels their success has the potential to spark more interest in the competition.

"Wigan will always be my team, but you give credit where it's due," said Robinson, speaking to Omnisport on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"Salford were struggling, potentially going down. You don't have to listen to the noise. You just need the culture within a club, a team spirit which says you're going to do everything possible. Salford Reds are rising and then some, they're on a rocket at the moment.

"It's great to see. It has made Super League much stronger. Fans will follow success and we've seen that with Salford and they've delivered."

Robinson also believes Salford's inexperience of play-off rugby has made them even more dangerous, though acknowledged Saints - who are hunting a first title since 2014 - are big favourites for Saturday's decider.

"It's disappointing to see Wigan lose, but it looked like a simple factor - you could tell [Salford] wanted it more," Robinson added.

"Salford are not used to it, they haven't been in a Grand Final before. They were hungry for it, they were chasing everything. They deserve to be in the final and they'll know it'll take a massive effort to beat St Helens.

"[Saints] have been the form team, four times they've beaten Wigan this season. If Salford can do it for one more game, it's big. I just hope they can somehow find that again.

"It will be a new experience, being in front of 70,000 people at the Grand Final, but they'll have good support. The neutral will follow Salford."

Jackson Hastings has starred for Salford this season, with the 2019 Man of Steel to play his final game for the club this weekend ahead of moving to Wigan - a switch Robinson is delighted with.

"Hastings has been one of the driving forces, the way he's played this year has been phenomenal," Robinson said of the 23-year-old. "I played for years with Wigan and won nearly everything in the game, but not a Man of Steel.

"For him to be in that Salford team, one everybody had written off, playing the way he has been playing and now getting into a Grand Final. It's brilliant.

"They'll be gutted to be losing Hastings. Wigan will be disappointed to not get into the final but they'll be delighted to be getting him. His attitude as well, in every interview, he's very humble. The attitude off the field is getting the rewards on it."

 

Land Rover is the official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.  With over 20 years of heritage supporting rugby at all levels, Land Rover is celebrating what makes rugby, rugby. #LandRoverRugby

Sonny Bill Williams could become the 'David Beckham of Super League' if Toronto Wolfpack can persuade the New Zealand star to join.

Coach Brian McDermott confirmed the Wolfpack, fresh from their win over Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game, were interested in securing the dual-code international's services.

He believes signing the All Blacks veteran would represent a major coup, with Williams having the star power to elevate the profile of the league, as Beckham did for Major League Soccer during his time with LA Galaxy.

"Sonny Bill Williams has shown interest in us and that's what it is at the moment," said McDermott, who won four Grand Finals when in charge of Leeds Rhinos.

"He's currently busy with the [Rugby] World Cup so I wouldn't ever dare to suggest that he is more than interested in coming but the answer wasn't a 'no' once we made contact so that's something we'd like to follow up.

"Our club would want to have a name that's absolutely international that everybody would recognise and help the profile of our game, very much like David Beckham did for Major League Soccer.

"But he would have to be a very good player as well, he's got to be able to do the job that I want him to do. There would be no token player or just a headline-grabbing player."

Rugby league is leading the way when it comes to assessing and treating head injuries in sport, according to St Helens' Alex Walmsley.

Walmsley is set to feature for Saints as they take on Salford Red Devils in Saturday's Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, while he is also in line to tour New Zealand and Papua New Guinea with Great Britain Lions.

It marks a remarkable comeback for Walmsley, who broke his neck in March 2018 while in action for Saints.

Concussion protocols have been in the spotlight in 2019, with Australia cricketer Steve Smith missing the third Ashes Test against England after he was struck by a Jofra Archer delivery. In rugby union, it has been suggested 10 minutes is not enough for a head injury assessment.

Though he believes rugby league is at the forefront of tackling the stigma surrounding head injuries, Walmsley acknowledged there is still plenty of work to be done.

"I didn't know I'd broken my neck but there was a gut instinct where I knew I'd done something which meant I shouldn't play on," Walmsley told Omnisport.

"With the head injury as well, it forced our hand to get me off the pitch.

"You look at Steve Smith and how devastated he was but we're not just sportsmen. We get tagged with how we should put our bodies on the line, but a lot of us are family men, we've got partners and kids and I think the most important thing to do after a game is you see your family.

"The way [rugby league] has gone, with the doctors in place and the head [injury] protocols, we're making sure that's right.

"There was a time when you'd be considered soft or weak if you came off with a concussion or head injury, you'd be expected to crack on. We're tough men who play a physical game but ultimately, regardless of the sport, if you've got a head issue we need to make sure we're safe and our sport is at the front of that."

Walmsley claimed the psychological aspect of his rehabilitation was the toughest hurdle to overcome, but to be on the verge of a Grand Final and a Lions tour has left him in no doubt he made the right decision in returning to rugby.

"It was a mental battle as much as it was a physical battle," said the 29-year-old, who has made 22 league appearances this term.

"Not only getting back into a position where I was right to play again but being confident in my body. That was a tough battle, there was a lot of tough conversations to be had, mainly in my own head, about what I was going to do and was it worth it.

"Thankfully I came to the decision where I knew my body was right. To get back playing, it makes those times all worthwhile."

 

Alex Walmsley is working with Dacia on their We Make Heroes campaign, celebrating understated heroes throughout Rugby League. To find out more, visit Dacia.com.

New Zealand have called up six uncapped players for the World Cup Nines in Sydney. 

Parramatta Eels rookie Dylan Brown, Canberra Raiders' Bailey Simonsson and Cronulla Sharks prop Braden Hamlin-Uele join a trio of Canterbury Bulldogs players in the 16-man selection.

Corey Harawira-Naera, Reimis Smith and Jeremy Marshall-King are the three Bulldogs to make the cut.

New Zealand Warriors also have three players in the squad, with Leeson Ah Mau, Ken Maumalo and Kodi Nikorima in the mix.

NRL Grand Final runners-up Canberra Raiders can match that tally, with Jordan Rapana and Joseph Tapine set to feature alongside Simonsson in the inaugural edition of the tournament, which begins next week.

New Zealand will face Australia, the United States and Papua New Guinea in Pool A.

New Zealand Nines squad:

Leeson Ah Mau, Dylan Brown, James Fisher-Harris, Corey Harawira-Naera, Braden Hamlin-Uele, Jamayne Isaako, Shaun Johnson, Jeremy Marshall-King, Ken Maumalo, Briton Nikora, Kodi Nikorima, Kevin Proctor, Jordan Rapana, Bailey Simonsson, Reimis Smith, Joseph Tapine.

Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Moses have been named in Australia's squad for the inaugural World Cup Nines later this month.

The Newcastle Knights' Ponga and Parramatta Eels' Moses are yet to represent Australia, but are set to play their parts in Sydney on October 18-19.

Moses' Eels team-mate Clint Gutherson and the Brisbane Broncos' David Fifita are also part of the squad.

Australia head coach Mal Meninga is excited by the players he has at his disposal for the tournament.

"This is an exciting squad of players and I can't wait to see what they can do in this format," he said.

"We have some experienced Kangaroos representatives but we also have some players who have never represented Australia before.

"It will be fantastic to see all these players in the green and gold and on this stage.

"Nines is a fantastic innovation and this group of players have been picked with this form of the game in mind, but also with a view to seeing what a number of them can do in an Australian jumper."

Australia will face New Zealand, the United States and Papua New Guinea in Pool A.

Australia Nines squad:

Josh Addo-Carr, Jai Arrow, AJ Brimson, Nathan Brown, Kyle Feldt, David Fifita, Tyson Frizell, Reuben Garrick, Wade Graham, Clint Gutherson, Ben Hunt, Mitchell Moses, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Kalyn Ponga, Curtis Scott, Cody Walker.

Kangaroos head coach Mal Meninga has extended his contract through until the end of the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

Meninga has been at the helm of Australia since late 2015 and led the Kangaroos to success at the Rugby League World Cup in 2017.

The rugby league great will remain at the helm for at least another two years, it was announced on Monday.

"I'm incredibly honoured to continue to coach the Kangaroos and in particular have the opportunity to coach the team to another World Cup campaign," Meninga said in a statement.

"Playing for my country was for me the pinnacle of my career and I know that every player I've coached as part of the Kangaroos has felt similarly.

"We've worked hard to respect our past and take the spirit of former players with us every time we represent Australia and our fans.

"I'm looking forward to the next few years with the team and the opportunity to coach at a World Cup in the United Kingdom in 2021."

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter Beattie paid tribute to Meninga.

"Mal is a legend of our game with a revered presence wherever he goes," he said.

"He has instilled a strong sense of history and values into the national team fabric and has created an enormous sense of pride in the Kangaroos jumper.

"He has also lifted the profile of international rugby league significantly at a time when it is a real focus of the Australian Rugby League Commission.

"Mal also ensured that our women's national team – the Jillaroos – are equal to our Kangaroos when it comes to national pride, presence and opportunity and that's something that hasn't been lost on both sets of players and fans.

"The rugby league community wishes Mal the very best over the next few years."

The Kangaroos also named a 19-man squad for Tests against New Zealand and Tonga on October 25 and November 2 respectively.

Josh Addo-Carr, Nick Cotric, Payne Haas, Cameron Murray, Paul Vaughan and Jack Wighton are the six debutants included.

Australia: Josh Addo-Carr, Daly Cherry-Evans, Damien Cook, Boyd Cordner, Nick Cotric, Tyson Frizell, Wade Graham, Payne Haas, Ben Hunt, Luke Keary, David Klemmer, Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Munster, Cameron Murray, Josh Papalii, James Tedesco, Jake Trbojevic, Paul Vaughan, Jack Wighton.

Salford Red Devils talisman Jackson Hastings was announced as the 2019 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel at the Super League Awards on Sunday.

The Australian has been instrumental in guiding the Red Devils to a shock Grand Final appearance - they will face St Helens at Old Trafford on Saturday - and was an understandably popular winner of the night's biggest honour at The Lowry Theatre in Salford.

Hastings, who received a rousing ovation as he collected the prize, beat off competition from Warrington Wolves playmaker Blake Austin, Saints full-back Lachlan Coote, Wigan Warriors half-back George Williams and Castleford Tigers prop Liam Watts to become the first Salford player to be named Man of Steel.

"It's obviously the greatest achievement I've had in my career," said Hastings, whose career has been revived at Salford following his controversial departure from Manly Sea Eagles in 2018.

Points were handed out to star performers by a panel of experts on a 3-2-1 basis throughout the season, but scoring was kept secret from Round 22 in mid-July, when Hastings and Austin were level atop the leaderboard.

Austin was hampered by injury in the closing months of the season as Warrington's title challenge faded, but Hastings has gone from strength to strength and will hope to end his Salford career in style in Manchester next weekend before joining Wigan for 2020.

"I don't really want to think about it just yet, he added when asked about the upcoming clash with Saints. "We're playing against the best team in the comp by a mile ... we're going to throw the kitchen sink and see what we can do."

Hastings also won the Fans' Entertainer of the Year prize, while St Helens players took away the Young Player of the Year and Top Try-Scorer gongs, courtesy of Matty Lees and Tommy Makinson respectively.

Justin Holbrook, who will return to Australia with Gold Coast Titans following the Grand Final, was named Coach of the Year after St Helens dominated the regular season once again to pick up the League Leaders' Shield.

Retiring Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan was honoured with the Spirit of Super League award. Leeds' Courtney Hill was named Woman of Steel, succeeding Castleford's Georgia Roche - the inaugural winner of the award in 2018.

The NRL will not return to using one central referee despite controversy blighting Sydney Roosters' 14-8 Grand Final win over Canberra Raiders.

Assistant Gerard Sutton and touch judge Chris Butler advised head referee Ben Cummins to overturn his late call to hand the Raiders another six tackles, handing possession back to the Roosters, who promptly went up the other end to claim the win.

Canberra boss Ricky Stuart was diplomatic afterwards and insisted he would neither blame the officials for a heart-breaking loss nor seek talks with the league's head of football Graham Annesley.

Speaking after the match, Annesley's assessment was the right decision had been reached – a review of replays showed the ball had come off a Canberra player – but in unsatisfactory circumstances.

"That meant six tackles should not have been awarded," he said. "But I accept it created confusion among the Canberra players.

"It's obviously very messy and very disappointing for the game as a whole that we're now talking about an incident where they actually got the decision right – but they got it right in a way that's caused controversy.

"But if they had not corrected the decision and the Raiders had scored, I'd probably still be sitting here telling you a try had been scored off an incorrect decision.

"But from the moment it happened, the outcome was going to be very unpalatable.

"One of the reasons we have multiple officials on the field is to try to get decisions right."

Before 2009, NRL games were controlled by a single referee, and Annesley felt the Grand Final flashpoint actually highlighted the flaw of the old system.

"If we'd had one referee tonight we would have got the decision wrong," he added.

"It's not possible to avoid errors. Errors by their very definition aren't intended to happen.

"So if anyone can sit in this chair and tell you they can prevent errors from occurring, then we should be hiring them immediately."

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