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Brad Arthur: Bullying Ball Boys an NRL Disgrace
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Brad Arthur: Bullying Ball Boys an NRL Disgrace

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has unleashed on an NRL official who allegedly told the Friday night ball boys they had cost the Eels the chance to defeat the Bulldogs.

Speaking to Triple M on Saturday morning, Arthur remained angry about the way the NRL and the Friday night referees had handled the controversial decision, one that left the Eels' season on life support. 

“An NRL official told the ball boys that they cost Parramatta the game,” Arthur told the Deadset Legends program.

“For the ball boys to be held accountable by an NRL official is an absolute disgrace.”

In a massive call late during the closing stages of Canterbury’s much-needed 18-16 victory, Chris Sandow produced a precise 40/20 kick but the Eels were denied the quick tap that may have led to a match-winning try when the ball boy threw the ball directly to Vai Toutai.

According to the NRL, the ball boy was meant to place the ball on the ground for Toutai to retrieve it, yet the player specifically requested to be handed the ball.

However, there’s no mention of the ball boy’s role in a change to the rule from the start of this season, one which altered the previous scrum re-start to a quick tap

The rule states: “When a kick in general play and from inside a team’s 40 metre zone, finds touch (other than on the full) in the opposition’s 20 metre zone, the resulting tap kick restart will be awarded to the kicking team 20 metres in from touch opposite where the ball crossed the touch line, but no closer than 10 metres from the goal line.”

Friday night’s incident was not the first time the 40/20 rule change has caused issues this season but it may prove the straw that broke the camel’s back after it left Parramatta’s hopes of making the finals hanging by a thread.


It was enough to leave Arthur seething at officials Ben Cummins and Chris James even before he heard that the ball boys – aged between 12 and 14 - had allegedly been given a post-match spray.

"I don't know how many times I've seen players running down and getting the ballboy to throw it in and it's play-on," Arthur told reporters after the match. "It's a stupid rule.

"Vai actually passed the ball off the sideline. What more do they want us to do? Go up into the grandstand and pass it out of the grandstand? If Ashley Klein had to miss out on the week of footy, I don't know about those two blokes in the middle.

"They're supposed to make the game faster and get an attacking advantage, but how many times have we seen it pulled back on those 40-20s? At least more than 50 per cent I'd say, and I'm only guessing. You go back and have a look at them."

NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg has launched an investigation into the alleged incident.

"The kids are absolutely vital to us across so many parts of the game and I'll make some investigations," he said.

"If I can get to the bottom of who said what, then I will and I'll talk to the Parramatta Eels.


"I've already reached out to try and talk to the boy and his family because I think it's unfair for him to be criticised.

"I'll certainly do that – you have my word."

Channel 9 commentator and premiership-winning coach Phil Gould added: "Our highly-paid professional game shouldn't depend on where a 10 or 11 year-old ballboy places the ball. It's ridiculous."

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