Knights coach Stone wants answers from Harrigan

He wants an explanation from referees’ coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper on the controversial issue of player safety, after the Dragons scored a contentious try, which may have cost the Knights the match.

The try under scrutiny by Rick Stone came in the 20th minute, when Knights winger Wes Naiqama had his legs removed from under him as he went up to catch a Jamie Soward bomb.

Phil Cooley, the video ref at the time looked at the contest several times, but eventually ruled that the contact from Jason Nightingale on Naiqama was insufficient, and thus, the try was awarded.

”The collision was just incidental,” Newcastle captain Kurt Gidley was told by officials when he protested the decision.

Stone refused to accept that however, and as a result, he demanded that players become better protected in the air when going up for the ball.

”I’m a little bit bemused by it, to be honest. I thought Wes was put in a dangerous position,” Stone said.

”Surely, that should have been a penalty as far as protecting the player and the players’ safety is concerned.

”He’s up high – regardless of whether the bloke is playing for the ball or not, if it puts Wes in a position that’s going to endanger him, I believe they should have a good look at that.”

It is now the 2nd successive week, that Stone has raised the issue of player safety, after he queried last week – the lack of action taken against Manly second-rower Brett Stewart after a hit that knocked out Knights player Shannon McDonnell.

”I need clarification on that from Stuart Raper and Bill Harrigan,” Stone said.

”I had … an issue with player safety with Shannon McDonnell last week, and I didn’t get the result I wanted. But fullbacks in the air, regardless of how they get put in dangerous positions, need [protection].”

Knights captain Kurt Gidley said that he raised the issue with the ref on the field, but to no avail.

”I asked him exactly that. ‘Wasn’t Wes in a dangerous position?’ ” Gidley said.

”He should be protected. He said they had a look at it … and said [Nightingale] went for the ball so that was it.”

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