Ashley Klein Rugby LeagueNew NRL referee Ashley Klein has confirmed this morning he has set his sights on the number 1. referee ranking in the NRL competition.

The former Super League whistle blower who led the European pack in terms of ability has proven himself not only in the UK tournament but also on the International stage with several major World Cup billings.

Speaking candidly this morning on Radio 2KY, Klein confirmed his goals for 2009 – aiming for State of Origin billings and potentially a Grand Final if things work out for the talented whistle blower.

With Sean Hampstead retiring from on-field duties in 2009 to focus purely on the video box, the NRL referee stocks continue to lose experience – with leading officials such as Bill Harrigan, Tim Mander, Steve Clark and Paul Simpkins all hanging up the whistle in recent years.

Standing out from the current crop is Tony Archer and Shayne Hayne, with the latter showing promise in recent years but never really capturing the consistency to launch him into top spot. However, the introduction of the dual-referee system may also impact on the abilities and rankings of the whistle blowers.

For example, referee Ben Cummins who tends to ‘over-referee’ at times and frustrate players, may be helped by a new whistle blower working in tandem with him to help keep a lid on things – without resorting to constant penalties and player lectures.

For new recruit Klein, he comes in at the perfect time. Once he gets up to speed with the dual referee system, he has every chance to take top billing this year. When compared with leading referee Tony Archer, Klein has youth and experience on his side – along with a strong respect from leading players in Rugby League.

Forget the beat-up over the Rugby League World Cup, the top NRL players who have played under Ashley Klein do not have a problem with him. Klein’s ability to allow a Rugby League match to flow, while at the same time keeping the infringements in check and retaining the respect of the players – should see him climb the ranks quickly. will introduce a new ‘Referee Power Rankings’ for the 2009 NRL season to go with our popular ‘Power Rankings’ system that so many others have tried to copy.

As the NRL season for 2009 draws closer, be sure and stay tuned to for the most complete and hard-hitting NRL stories, reviews and rankings. If you’re not already subscribed to our free email list, be sure and add your address from the main page – allowing you to receive every new article instantly via email updates, fast and free.

By ricky

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