Leeds Rhinos boss Rohan Smith upset by 'atmosphere killer' video ref in Super League win v Salford Red Devils

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Boss Rohan Smith felt use of the video referee was an “atmosphere killer” during Leeds Rhinos’ 22-16 win over Salford Red Devils in Betfred Super League round one.

The game was marred by a series of stoppages, including a long delay for video referee Ben Thaler to check an alleged shoulder charge by Rhinos’ debutant centre Paul Momirovski. Eventually, Salford were awarded a penalty - which Marc Sneyd kicked to edge the visitors ahead for the third time - and Momirovski was sin-binned.

Soon afterwards, Salford’s Chris Atkin was shown a green card, forcing him to leave the field for two minutes, after receiving treatment which halted a Leeds attack. Smith felt it was “a good game for round one, in lots of ways”, but insisted: “It felt like a two-hour game. There were a lot of really long stoppages - you like skill and collision and you want to see attrition, but there wasn’t much attrition in that. It just would just have been good if we weren’t stopping the game for blokes to do their boots up or get treated.”

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Of the incident involving Momirovski, Smith insisted: “That's just an atmosphere killer. You go and make another pot of tea if you're at home watching that. I’m all for player safety, there's nobody I’ve come across that looks after player safety as well as we do at this club, so I’m all for that. But how many replays were there of Momirovski’s tackle? If you have to look at that many, are you conclusive?”

Centre Paul Momirovski was sin-binned during his Leeds Rhinos debut in the 22-16 win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Centre Paul Momirovski was sin-binned during his Leeds Rhinos debut in the 22-16 win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Centre Paul Momirovski was sin-binned during his Leeds Rhinos debut in the 22-16 win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

He pointed out: “Initially it wasn't called a penalty, so they've overruled the initial call on the back of 20 to 30 replays. Everyone has their breath back, the attrition has completely gone out of the game and we're still not 100 per cent sure if he got it right.

“I can’t accept that’s the way we're going with it. He didn't hit him in the head, that was clear very early in the piece. Once you get past that bit, it should be ‘leave it to the match review panel to figure it out’ because that's what they're there for.”

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On the Atkin stoppage, Smith said: “He got his head checked, neck checked, ankle checked and then his knee and eventually he got a green card. But even off the back of that they still got two minutes’ rest. Then straight after that Cade Cust gets injured so they stop the game for him, but he didn't want to get a green card.

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Sam Lisone, pictured, scored the clinching try as Leeds Rhinos began their season with a home win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Sam Lisone, pictured, scored the clinching try as Leeds Rhinos began their season with a home win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Sam Lisone, pictured, scored the clinching try as Leeds Rhinos began their season with a home win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

"What are we doing? The game is about attrition, it's about tough blokes getting up and playing on. Of course, if someone has a neck injury, concussion, a bone sticking out, everyone knows those situations and you take care of the player, 100 per cent. James Bentley last year was a 10 to 15 -minute stoppage, maybe even longer, because player safety is number one. But we stop for a bloke doing his boot up - we couldn't kick for touch because he was doing his boot up.

“I don't hold anything against the bloke doing his boot up, that’s gamesmanship at its finest. I’m having this conversation whether we win or lose. We should be talking about a good game of footy. It was a good game of footy for round one, but it went on for an hour and 55 minutes.”