Former referees boss Bill Harrigan has slammed the performance of whistleblower Gerard Sutton in Origin III and says he wouldn’t have selected him.
Sixteen penalties were blown in the match, the equal-second most in an Origin match since 1996.
Twelve of those were also given in favour of NSW in their 18-14 win – coincidentally the same number Queensland received when winning last year’s series decider by a blow out margin.
The penalty count was 9-1 in the Blues’ favour at halftime after the Maroons copped a string of them for infringments while desperately defending their line.
Harrigan believes Sutton didn’t get a feel for Wednesday’s dead rubber clash and Gavin Badger – who played no part in the series – should have been one of the two referees.
“When you get into a State of Origin you’ve got to have a feel for the game and an empathy for the game,” Harrigan, who refereed 21 Origins, told Triple M.
“And I just think that Gerry didn’t have that feel last night.
“If you’re going to blow a penalty it’s got to have impact and have the desired affect that you’re after … and when he gave some of the penalties that weren’t needed to be given.”
Harrigan, who publicly backed Sutton after the opening game of the series, thought he should have made way for Badger in Wednesday night’s clash.
“I would take Gerry out,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have had them for Game III,” Harrigan said.
“I thought (Gavin) Badger deserves his go. He’s been the best referee all year, he’s got the runs on the board and the way he’s been refereeing this year he deserves a shot at it.”
Harrigan did however praise pocket referee Ben Cummins for his call to recommend the sin-binning of Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk after he took Michael Jennings off a kick-chase.
“The sin binning was absolutely spot on, that was a great decision … and it had great impact too,” Harrigan said.