NRL referees boss Tony Archer has hit back at his predecessor Bill Harrigan, throwing his support behind his whistleblowers for their performance in State of Origin III.
Harrigan slammed the performance of referee Gerard Sutton in Wednesday night’s dead rubber at ANZ Stadium, saying 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 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 blowout margin.
The penalty count was 9-1 in the Blues’ favour at halftime after the Maroons copped a string of them for infringements while desperately defending their line.
However Archer not only said his refs were correct in penalising the Maroons for their repeated infringements in the first half, he said they performed well across the whole series.
“Going into game two, I reminded the referees that if there were infringements in the ruck or on the 10 metres, my expectation is that they are penalised to ensure a flow to the game,” Archer said.
“There was a period where NSW were in a strong attacking position, there’s four penalties in about seven or eight minutes.
“I expected the referees to penalise those that infringe and was comfortable with what they did in that period of the game.”
Harrigan said Sutton didn’t get a feel for Wednesday’s 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, 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.”