The boss of NZ Warriors' primary sponsor has stood by his explosive allegations that the team isn't getting a fair deal from NRL referees.
One NZ chief executive Jason Paris took to social media after the Warriors' defeat to Penrith Panthers, when two NZ players were sent to the sin bin in contentious fashion, to accuse referees of "cheating of the highest order" and alleging they were betting money against the Kiwi side.
"Are you kidding me? How biased are the @NRL bunker and referees against the @NZWarriors?" Paris posted on Twitter.
"Have they got money on them to lose? It's like we are permanently against 14 on the field and they want us to play with 12.
"It's absolutely outrageous and so incredibly frustrating. Imagine how the team feel - three games in 11 days and then this rubbish. Cheating of the highest order."
Paris' comments have drawn the ire of the NRL, which is now investigating the matter. It's unclear what power the body would have in sanctioning a sponsor.
"We will do everything possible to protect our match officials and the game," NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo told AP.
"Questioning their integrity is completely unacceptable. We are currently exploring all our options and will take whatever steps we believe are necessary to defend them."
On Monday, Paris added some perspective around his comments on referee cheating but maintained the Warriors were still victims of ongoing and historic mistreatment by officials.
"I think I was just a fan in the heat of the moment," Paris told AM. "I definitely don't think that refs go out to cheat, they go out to do their best job.
"But I do stand by the fact that the Warriors aren't getting a fair go every week.
"It wasn't just last week. It doesn't matter if you go back three weeks or three years, there's just consistently inconsistent decisions against us."
In the second half of Saturday's loss, Jackson Ford was sent to the bin for a hip drop tackle on Spencer Leniu, while rookie forward Demetric Sifakula was shown his marching orders for retaliating against Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary for a tackle on Josh Curran.
Those sanctions follow other questionable calls against the Warriors in recent weeks, including Dylan Walker's dismissal against Melbourne Storm.
Paris encouraged the NRL to look further into the matter, doubling down on his accusation of referee bias.
"They should do everything possible to protect the game and their match officials, which is about making quality decisions that take the decisions that are made that influence the outcome of a game out, and just let the players be outstanding athletes.
"There's been too much chatter - including from me - about what is happening on the field in terms of being influenced by these referee decisions.
"I stand by the bias against the Warriors… but all fans like me who have been supporting them for 20 years, get pretty passionate in the moment."
Paris hopes his comments will put a spotlight on the perceived slights against the Warriors and inspire a more "data driven" investigation into how referees treat the NZ-based side relative to other teams.
"I would use this as an opportunity to have not a belief-based discussion but a data-driven discussion," Paris told AM.
"Look at the video footage over the last three weeks, over the last three years. Compare the exact same instances that are happening in Warriors games compared to other teams that are competing against them, or in other matches, and you will see inconsistencies.
"Take all this conversation and belief out of it and look at the facts. If the facts are showing the Warriors are getting a fair go - then I'll shut up.
"As a fan I just want the Warriors to get a fair go every week, just like every other team."
Paris said he hadn't been contacted by the NRL or the Warriors in regards to his outburst but had received a lot of positive feedback from fans - not limited to supporters of the NZ side.
They've raised the issue of "unconscious bias" - which Paris believes accurately describes the issue his beloved club is facing, particularly with on-field matters that are referred to the video review system.
"There is an unconscious bias against the warriors every week by the bunker and that's baffling.
I've heard a lot from a lot of fans - not just of the Warriors - from other clubs saying they commend the fact that this has brought a conversation forward
"I like that the NRL are going to look into it. They should protect their game and one of the things to protect their game - as a massive fan - is making sure they get the calls right on the field."
Immediately after the game, coach Andrew Webster identified a couple of decisions he was unhappy with, wondering why his side hadn't been awarded a penalty for what seemed a clear high shot on Tohu Harris, despite the bunker thoroughly reviewing the incident, although he resisted making any specific complaint towards referees for fear of being fined.
A fortnight ago during the loss to Sydney Roosters, a shoulder charge by Sitili Tupouniua on Warriors wing Marcelo Montoya also went unpunished by the bunker.
Paris dodged the question of whether he'd be willing to front some money to allow Webster to get on his soapbox without having to worry about financial punishment, endorsing the coach's measured response.
"I think he's taking the right approach and so are the players," he added.
"They haven't been playing their perfect game every Saturday and my comments weren't about it costing the Warriors the game. But it definitely costs them momentum every game.
"This is one of the toughest sports competitions in the world and I think we're playing really well. You can see the effort on the field
"So it's just so frustrating when something happens in a game and we get ruled in a different way to most other teams in the competition."
"I'm not condoning any criticism of referees… but these are professionals.They're paid to do the job, in the bunker especially. They've got high quality footage, slo-mo from every angle. And when a shoulder hits a head it's consistent. The NRL has been excellent in their rulings on this.
"But when it comes to the Warriors - if we get struck - it doesn't seem to be consistent at all."