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Glen Black to ref final
Australia and Great Britain are set to lock horns over the appointment of a referee for Sunday's Tri Nations final with ARL officials ready to fight tooth-and-nail to have England's Russell Smith appointed to the game.
The ARL has bowed to a request from England's RFL to have a neutral whistleblower - New Zealand's Glen Black - control the previous two clashes between the sides.
However, they're ready to stand their ground ahead of the sell-out final at Elland Road in Leeds, fearing the game could be left sporting a black eye if the Kiwi is retained for the decider.
"It's the biggest game of the year internationally and he doesn't referee in the Super League or NRL," ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said.
"We don't want to make a farce of it. We want the best referee in charge. We have said that from day one.
"We have been consistent from day one."
It seems incongruous that Great Britain would reject an English referee but the signs are that's exactly what will happen.
It's understood the RFL is ready to throw its support behind the beleaguered Black when the issue is discussed at Wednesday's international federation board meeting in Leeds.
New Zealand, the third member of the Tri Nations, holds the balance of power.
However, New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) chairman Selwyn Pearson had previously stated the Kiwis were likely to abstain from voting to allow the finalists to determine who should control the game.
Carr endorsed that stance.
"We have always had a view that if New Zealand are playing England, it should be worked out by them," Carr said.
"I think Selwyn shares that view. It simply means if Australia is playing England, we should work it out."