Melbourne Storm forward Christian Welch fears the NRL could blow its chance to win over new fans by reverting to one referee per game this season.
Story credit: Roy Ward/The Age.
The NRL continues to move towards resuming its season on May 28 but the need to cut costs has led to plans to cut back from two referees to one. The single referee format is still used in international rugby league.
The NRL could have millions of new viewers in AFL states and even overseas as many major sports remain shut down.
But many in the NRL fear they could see the game's best attacking players subdued by being held down too long in tackles or overcrowded by encroaching defensive lines.
"It's a chance to showcase rugby league to the world so there is a danger there in bringing the one referee in when we are not used to it and we haven't been able to practise with it.
"It could reduce the quality of our game when we can showcase it as the AFL is not up and running, American sport is not up and running and it's just rugby league."
Welch is on the cusp of returning to the side after a knee reconstruction last year and he expects to be available for selection in the first game back.
Welch added the speed of play was difficult for two referees to handle, leaving a single referee in an impossible position.
"The game is getting quicker and quicker, we are reducing stoppages with the dropouts and scrum clocks," Welch said.