It was what the fans wanted, and their wish has been granted, with NRL referees bosses Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper dumped from their positions, as the NRL undergoes a restructure in the off-field referees camp.
With a decision to be made in the coming weeks on who will assume the new role likely to be created, an NRL Referees Elite Performance Manager – which, in turn, will lead to re-shuffling other positions of seniority.
In the mean time, former Test referee and video referee Russell Smith will be the Interim Manager of the NRL Referees Department, and he will also assist the NRL's General Manager of Football Operations in Nathan McGuirk, to finalise the 2013 make-up of the referees squad.
Interim Chief Executive of the Australian Rugby League Commission, Shane Mattiske, thanked both Harrigan and Raper for their contributions, and for their time as the NRL Referee Bosses.
â€œBill has made an incredible contribution to refereeing in a career that will forever stand out in the gameâ€™s record books.
â€œHe and Stuart have worked incredibly hard over the last two years in particular and there is a strong sense of gratitude on our part for their efforts, but we also believe that a new structure is needed.â€
McGuirk said that the restructure was seen as an important step into the future of the game, citing the need to move to a new refereeing model.
â€œBill and Stuart have been part of a dual coaching structure and it is time to move to a new model.
â€œNobody could criticise their commitment, but as we have reviewed the year from a number of perspectives, it has become clear that we need one person to manage what is a high performance team.
â€œBill and Stuart have increased the depth of talent in the squad and that has been one of the real positives over the last two years.
â€œI certainly wish to thank them for the contribution they have made.â€