NRL Establishes Independant Referees Panel

9th March 2020

The National Rugby League has created an independent referees appointment panel, featuring three former first grade players, responsible for overseeing all first grade and representative refereeing appointments. The new panel is a direct recommendation of the McCurry Review into the referees department which was conducted last year and ensures greater transparency and more voices determining referee appointments. The new panel is:

  • Chair - Jason King (General Manager Elite Competitions, former NRL player)
  • David Fairleigh (Officiating Coach, former NRL player)
  • David Boyle (Officiating Coach, former NRL player)
  • Russell Smith (Officiating Coach, former international referee)
  • Steve Chiddy (Bunker Senior Review Official, former touch judge)
  • Jared Maxwell (Bunker Manager, former referee)
  • Gavin Reynolds (Officiating Operations Manager, former referee)

    Bernard Sutton will remain referees boss, as the General Manager of officiating. All referees will report to Sutton and he will oversee all administrative aspects, which includes coaching. Sutton will remain the key point of contact for all NRL coaches. NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley said the new panel would free up more time for Sutton to focus on high performance and remove any perceived issues surrounding the transparency of refereeing appointments. "Bernard Sutton has assisted with the creation of this new panel," Annesley said. "This is a strong panel with representatives from all facets of the game. We now have former players, former referees, bunker review officials and a representative from NRL football management making our refereeing appointments. There will be greater rigor around the selection of our referees, more transparency and we expect stronger on-field performances because Bernard Sutton will be able to devote more time to coaching and administration." The panel will commence immediately, making appointments for Round One of the Telstra NRL Premiership.

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