First, it was the NRL referees bosses who got the sack, and now, it is two NRL referees that have been shown the door – with the NRL acting swiftly on overall poor standard of refereeing, sacking experienced refs Steve Lyons and Tony De Las Heras.
Shown the door as the clean-out continues, Lyons, 42, says that he plans to take legal action against the NRL, citing a discrimination against his age as the reason for his sacking.
“They just called me in and gave me no reason other than saying they were going with younger blokes,” Lyons, 42, said.
The sacking came after Lyons was called into the NRL to meet with Operations Manager Nathan McGuirk and acting NRL Referees boss Russell Smith- with Lyons believing it was merely an opportunity to have a chat about the upcoming season.
“They already had my paperwork typed out,” Lyons said. “They just pulled it out of a folder. I had no opportunity to put up a case.
“I've been training my butt off ready to start with the rest of the referee
s in eight days' time.
“There was no warning. I finished the season as one of the top 16 referees. Apart from one game, I thought I'd had a good season.”
Lyons is no stranger to the world of refereeing, having been involved since 1995, before making his professional NRL debut as a referee back in 2001.
“I've got a family and a mortgage but no job,” Lyons said. “I think I was entitled to get a bit more notice. I could have been looking around for a new job for the past six weeks.
“And where's my long service entitlements? I started during the Super League war.
“All they've given me is $11,500 to walk away. I will most certainly be taking legal action.”
There was little sympathy from the NRL, however, with McGuirk saying that now was the time for younger referees to get a chance to step up.
“We've developed some new younger referees over the past few seasons and we want to give them an opportunity,” McGuirk said.
“There are only 20 fulltime positions, so some of the existing referees have had to make way.
“It was inevitable that there would be some changes.”