26 hours ago
Bill and the Eels are Mates Again.
Bill Harrigan and Parramatta have buried the hatchet after the National Rugby League's leading referee attended an Eels training session to "clear the air".
Harrigan incensed Parramatta when he sin-binned three Eels a total of four times in the second half for lying on the tackled player in a 24-18 loss to Newcastle 12 days ago.
Regarded as the code's premier referee, Harrigan was subsequently dropped to First Division for his controversial performance that had the Eels claiming it cost them two valuable competition points.
But, after joining the Eels in an hour-long session at Parramatta Stadium, both parties said their minds were fully focussed on resurrecting their 2002 seasons on Sunday.
The Eels travel to New Zealand to meet the Warriors chasing their first win in six weeks, while Harrigan returns to first grade to control the Northern Eagles' hosting of Cronulla at Brookvale Oval.
"It's a dead issue. Everything's been dealt with. It's all in the past," Parramatta captain Nathan Cayless said.
"It's all happened. There's nothing we can do about it now.
"There's no real point in talking about it - we're not going to get the two points, Newcastle have got them and the result's not going to change.
"We've just got to go on and get a couple of wins up to cement ourselves in the top eight."
Harrigan said "what happened in the Newcastle game and what's happened in the past for Parramatta and for me is history".
"And I really don't want to get into that at all," he said.
Harrigan's attendance at Eels training was a joint initiative between himself and Parramatta coach Brian Smith arising from their meeting last Tuesday to discuss any problems either might have with each other's style.
"Personally, I just wanted to clear the air if there was any supposed problems," Harrigan said.
"And also to get the other blokes to see me in a different light and to show them I put in just as much as these guys do week in and week out, and obviously keep that respect between Parramatta and myself."
Smith wasn't talking about the matter today, saying through a club spokesman he believed he'd already done enough of that, but Cayless said he'd "always had respect for Bill".
"He's been the No.1 referee for a number of years," he said, adding that no discussion of play-the-ball interpretations had been discussed.
"I didn't bring up any issues. If I was going to, I'd probably do it privately.
"We don't see ourselves as having a problem there. We work very hard on our tackle technique and stuff like that.
"On the weekend, against the Sharks, there was no problem there in that area at all in the game."