Referees boss Tony Archer has set the scene for an entertaining State of Origin series decider, directing his men to again enforce the 10-metre rule strictly.
After a stodgy Origin I in Sydney, referees Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton kept the teams well apart with a large 10m in game two at the MCG, creating a fast-paced, flowing game which drew widespead praise.
Archer says fans can expect more of the same at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night when Cummins and Sutton will be in charge for a third consecutive game.
“I thought their performance in game two was better than game one and I would like to see that continue,” Archer told AAP.
“I have asked them to work hard again in relation to the 10m as they did in game two because it facilitated some real flow and momentum within the game.
“They worked hard to get the players back behind them (in the defensive line) and when they didn’t comply they penalised them and you can expect that again.”
Whether that suits NSW or the Maroons most is a moot point, but lightning-quick Blues centre Michael Jennings was one player who thrived in the extra space as the Blues won Origin II.
Much of the focus in the lead-up to Origin II was on the niggle in the tackle and the possibility of a punch-up.
That didn’t eventuate in part because Cummins and Sutton kept a large 10m but Archer said his officials remained aware that flare-ups could happen with the stakes and emotions so high.
“It is up to the referees to identify that and we have been quite clear about that (the ramifications of punching) and I think you have see how the players have complied with that,” Archer said.
NSW have only won one penalty count in the last 11 games at Suncorp Stadium, but Archer was confident the vocal home ground wouldn’t influence the decision process of Cummins and Sutton.
“We have two very experienced referees there,” Archer said.
“They have refereed Origin before and grand finals, they know how to referee.”
The performances of the Blues and Maroons have been the subject of most discussion in the series so far with little talk focused on the effort of the referees and Archer said he hope it would stay that way.
“I’m hoping that after the game on Wednesday people will be talking about the game itself and not the referees,” Archer said.