When the NRL teams were announced yesterday for Week 1 of the NRL Finals – the selection of the Referees to officiate the first batch of finals games is an interesting one in itself. Amazingly Sean Hampstead missing the cut and not getting allocated a finals game this weekend, we asked our NRL News writers their opinion on the referees for this weekends games and which teams it will suit:
Tony Archer (NZ Warriors vs Parramatta Eels)
– Known as “Mr Have a Chat”, The unique scream of Tony Archer is one of the most notable of all referees, his final tackle call of “LAAAAAAAAAAST ONE” is typical of his ‘tradesman’ like style of refereeing. A no fuss official that generally likes a flowing game – he rarely gets too involved in minute detail penalties. Is able to ‘set the scene’ for players early and doesn’t have to blow the pea out of the whistle to keep them apart. The style of Tony Archer suits both the Warriors and Eels – but after the Eels thrashed the Broncos under the eye of Archer; winning the penalty count in a big way they can maybe claim a small advantage from Archer – however the home-crowd may even that up slightly.
Paul Simpkins (Cowboys vs Bulldogs)
– An out of form referee, probably lucky to make Week 1 of the finals as many thought Sean Hampstead would get this spot over Simpkins. Has tended to lose control of games lately, things like 10m gap, foul play and home crowd involvement can really see Simpkins get flustered and lose focus. While he has plenty of experience, this year hasn’t been his best and he is holding the pill very nervously. His current nervous style and tendency to not call many penalties may help the Bulldogs if they are willing to take the gamble. They can attempt to slow and spoil the ruck and may get away with it, allowing them to get to JT and Bowen quicker.
Shayne Hayne (Manly vs South Sydney)
– Having been reported as the ‘next Bill Harrigan’ for several years now, Shayne Hayne still can’t deliver consistently every week. Goes through good patches and bad patches and you never really know what you will get on the day. One thing about Hayne however, is he doesn’t seem to get swayed as much by the home crowd compared to other referees. This might be the only point to help Souths however, because their discipline has been woeful this past week and one thing about Hayne is he can hold a grudge during a game for long periods. Once a team infringes multiple times, Hayne can go on a rampage and hammer the offending team in a big way – had he officiated in the Souths v Roosters last week; Souths may have seen 1 or 2 players sent off.
Steve Clark (Melbourne Storm vs Brisbane)
– Known as the “Terminator” in Rugby League circles, the elder statesmen of NRL referees is universally known as a ‘school teacher’ style of referee. Always short odds each week to blow thousands of penalties for anything and everything he can find during a Rugby League match. Will generally block out the crowd and all other things to simply ‘look’ for areas where he can blow a penalty. His style could certainly help Brisbane on Sunday if Melbourne are slightly off the job. Every team playing under Steve Clark needs to have everything from their play the ball foot touches, to square markers to scrum feeds absolutely perfect – otherwise the “Terminator” will simply blow them away. Literally.