Paul Cooke backs referees and claims controversial red cards are a direct result of the RFL lawsuit

The weekend’s Challenge Cup will live long in the memory for both quality and controversy with Wigan Warriors falling to golden point defeat and Leigh Leopards edging out St Helens to book a date at Wembley.

Initially the weekend’s reactions focused around quality before then becoming about the controversy of Joe Shorrocks’ red card for a high shot.

The discourse then changed upon the devastating season ending injuries to Agnatius Paasi and Alex Walmsley, with John Asiata’s tackle technique under the microscope.

One pundit who is sick of that conversation is Paul Cooke with the former Hull KR and Hull FC man instead suggesting that fans need to focus on the quality of games, not the questions that get asked.

“Ultimately the referees have got such a difficult job,” Cooke explained on BBC Humberside.

“I said it last week and I’ve said it for the last few weeks. If you continue to bag referees, then I’m going to block you off my social media because I’m sick to death talking about referees and referee decisions.

“When I see a game like Hull KR vs Wigan and I see a game like the Leigh and St Helens in the Challenge Cup on the day before, the two women’s games was absolutely outstanding games too.

“The games are absolutely brilliant.”

Despite making an excellent point Cooke was asked about the Shorrocks red card and echoed comments made my many former pros, but upheld the opinion that referees don’t deserve the social media complaints.

“For me looking at it, it’s not a red card but ultimately the referees hands are tied because of situations which is out of their control, so we can jump on a bandwagon if we want and bag the referee for sending him off but ultimately every other referee in that position would have been instructed by the video referee to send Joe Shorrocks off.

“That’s the day and age of the game and where we’re at. Whether it’s right or wrong, we can debate it till the cows come along, but ultimately it’s a red card and a red card offence in this day and age.

“There’s lots of different things which you can draw comparisons to in different games.”

Cooke further explained why the referees hands are tied, referencing the ongoing lawsuit against the RFL surrounding concussion.

“t’s really difficult for officials because, and I hate saying these words, because everybody jumps on a bandwagon, particularly older players or ex-players and that’s ‘in my day’.

“That’s the phrase I hate, ‘in my day, that wasn’t a red card tackle’. Yeah, it wasn’t but the game’s changed so much because of the legal challenge of the players.

“The protocols that the referee have to follow are of such stringent and strict, you know, notice that as soon as that happens, it’s got to be red.”