Jets don't know where to turn after refs dismiss complaints
SHANE Walker does not know what else he can do.
Having taken his claims about the Ipswich Jets being unfairly treated by Queensland Cup referees to their boss, with no success, there seems little else he can do.
It is why he is wiling to air his complaints publicly - he feels he has nothing left to lose.
"We're that used to bad decisions now," Walker said.
"We're extremely frustrated by the lack of co-operation from referees.
"We've written to the refs' boss (Queensland Rugby League Referees' Academy Manager Eddie Ward) and done everything we can. I don't know where else we can go. It's like being in the Stawell Gift as a back marker, where everyone gets a start on you."
Walker uses a sprint race metaphor to describe the situation but it is not far from the mark.
The Jets pride themselves on their defensive line speed and spend hours getting their timing right so they can shut down opposition attacks.
They have become renowned for it.
Opponents who try to nullify the Jets by matching them inevitably do so by leaving the mark early, yet do not get as stringently policed as the Jets do in Walker's view.
"The rules say you can get off your line when the ball is behind the foot (of the player playing it)," Walker said.
"We do it to the letter.
"Everyone watches the tape and you can see (the opposition) taking off when the ball is on the ground, not behind the foot.
"There's a metre and a half difference.
"It's disappointing because we work that bloody hard. We haven't got a big side so we've got to get off the line hard."
Walker claims the Jets have won three penalty counts in three years and his complaints to Ward have resulted in no satisfactory explanation.
The recent match against Redcliffe, which Ipswich won despite the Dolphins dominating possession thanks to a lop-sided penalty count, summed up the situation.
"Against Redcliffe, when they had the ball you can hear the touch judge say, 'Forward pass, forward pass,'" Walker said.
"And the ref says, 'No it's okay.' When we asked Eddie Ward about it he said the touch judge didn't say it with enough authority. I would suggest the fact he said it twice suggests it was a forward pass."
In the same game Jets hooker Michael Fisher threw a pass Walker said was obviously backwards, only for it to be ruled forward.
Walker claims that when he asked Ward for an explanation his response was, "I've got no answer for it."
In another incident the referee called knock-on after a Dolphins player lost the ball while attempting to play it.
But when the player argued with him he reversed the decision, letting play continue.
The Redcliffe game was not just a one off, with Walker claiming similar incidents from other games had been brought to Ward's attention with nothing done about it.
"We're not a team with poor discipline," Walker said.
"We hammer our guys at training in terms of the rules. Such as playing the ball with your foot. It's being ignored."
Queensland Rugby League General Manager of Major Competitions Jamie O'Connor said there were further avenues for the Jets to take their complaint.
"If the club requests a review I'll certainly do that," he said. "But there is a protocol to be followed. It needs to come through the channels of the club's CEO."
O'Connor did not wish to be drawn into the specifics of Walker's complaints until that process was followed.
"I wouldn't say they are founded but I wouldn't say they are not," he said.