Cronulla star Andrew Fifita should be banned from the NRL for 12 months if allegations he abused a rugby league match official are proven correct, says former grand final referee Bill Harrigan.
Former Kangaroo Fifita allegedly said to the referee “I’ll smash you” after an incident involving his brother David in the Penrith junior league in Glenwood on Saturday.
The alleged incident is the subject of an investigation by Sharks management, with the NRL asserting they would take a zero tolerance approach towards abuse of referees by first grade players.
Andrew Fifita was said to be upset after the referee didn’t stop play for an injured player.
Speaking on Triple M, Harrigan, who refereed 10 grand finals, 21 State of Origin fixtures and 22 Test matches, said the Fifita brothers needed to be made an example of, if they were found guilty.
“It should be a long time out of the game,” Harrigan said.
“Because that’s what they are saying about anyone out there approaching referees, and trying to retain young referees over the abuse they all cop.
“To cop it from a first grader to say I’ll smash you or something similar if that is what he has said. To me it has to be rubbed out to set an example, rubbed out for 12 months.
Harrigan said retaining young referees continued to be a problem for the NRL, because of the poor treatment they receive.
“Out there at park football where these young referees don’t have any security like first graders do they walk to their cars, or their mums and dads are picking them up they shouldn’t be fearing, they shouldn’t be worrying about people coming up to them and abusing them,” he said.
“Every time you see someone coming up to you you start to feel intimidated or panic about it, you start to think is this bloke going to have a go at me.
“If two footballers walked up to you, first grade footballers that are well known and they say something which was something in a derogatory way, well then there has to be a heavy punishment because they are setting an example to the mums and dads out there.”