Overhaul for refs, judiciary http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegrap...006066,00.html THE NRL's trial of two referees could become permanent next season while video officials and the judiciary have been handed more power in 2008. The two referee system received mixed responses from players and coaches when used in preseason trials, but the NRL is pushing ahead with plans to ease the workload on officials and therefore improve performance. Video referees can now be called upon to decide on stripping while the tightening of grapple tackle rules and the reduction of panel members has decreased the odds of players beating charges at the judiciary. An independent review is also looking at all aspects of refereeing. Due in April, the report could recommend the introduction of two officials and highlight ways to improve recruitment, retention and standards. Chief operating officer Graham Annesley said the two referee system may be used in the under 20's Toyota Cup this season, with a view to making it permanent for the top tier competition. "I think it's a distinct possibility,'' said Annesley when asked if the NRL could have two referees in the near future. "It seems to have gone pretty well in the trials and we will know more once we get (the sub committee) back together and assess how it went.'' Whistle blowers can now seek assistance from video referees on lost possession, with a maximum of two replays allowed to decide if a ball was stripped by a defender. It is hoped the option of using video to decide stripping will deter players from deliberately raking the ball, but Annesley denied the system would become a 'challenge' whereby referees react to requests from players or fans. "It's not a captain's challenge, this is purely a matter for the referee to decide whether he wants to use it or not,'' said Annesley. "The referee has to tell the video referee he wants them to look at it.'' The NRL also announced today an overhaul of the judiciary, reducing the number of panel members from nine to six to create greater consistency among decisions. NRL statistics show that the number of not guilty verdicts at the judiciary has risen over the past five years, peaking at 50 per cent in 2007 as opposed to just 17 per cent in 2003. There were 99 charges handed down in 2007 for a total of 92 weeks suspension with 80 per cent of players accepting an early guilty plea. Match review committee chairman Greg McCullum will now attend all judiciary hearings and have a de-briefing with panel members to ensure consistent opinion between prosecutor and jury. The move to create greater consistency comes as laws surrounding the grapple tackle are tightened, with careless and incidental contact with the head or neck now charged if players don't immediately release. "The main objective with the judiciary is always to make it as consistent as possible,'' said Annesley. "It will make it easier for the match review committee to charge players.''