Refs have handled NRL finals well: Archer

NRL referees boss Tony Archer has applauded his officials for not being swayed by the upswing in talk about Melbourne’s wrestling tactics during this year’s finals series.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy last week lashed out at critics who he claimed routinely come out to bash his team’s playing style at the business end of the season.

However, Bellamy’s men overcame the barrage of judgement to progress to a highly-anticipated decider against premiership-less Cronulla on Sunday.

The man who oversaw the preliminary final between the Storm and Canberra, Matt Cecchin, was rewarded for a strong game by being named lead referee at ANZ Stadium.

Archer expects his officials to continue their form in the biggest game of the year.

“What I expect is the referees to continue the referee the ruck area the way they have in the semi-final period because I think they’ve handled it really well,” he told AAP.

“There’s always going to be a level of debate around officiating as the stakes get higher.”

Archer said there were two main elements when it came to officiating the ruck.

“One’s whether or not there’s any elements of foul play, and the second is the release of the defenders. That’s determined by the type of tackle and who won the play the ball,” he said.

Cecchin said the desperation of coaches and players during the finals series meant there would naturally be an increase in scrutiny over referees.

But he vowed not to enter the game with a particular mindset.

“Archer will back this up – I’m a very uncomplicated referee. I don’t go in there with a massive game plan, or a lot of preparation,” he said.

“I found when I’d done that in the past, I get let down when things don’t go to plan.

“So I go in there now with a very open mind. I treat my play the ball with time and do my best with every play the ball.”

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