Hampstead gets Origin whistle

Sean Hampstead has confirmed his position as the game?s best referee, with the ARL confirming his appointment as referee for the first State of Origin match at Stadium Australia next Wednesday.

In past seasons, Bill Harrigan all but had a mortgage on the Origin whistle, but his retirement at the completion of last season opened the door for a new wave of representative whistle blowers.

Hampstead?s appointment comes after steady performances in past seasons and an impressive start to the 2004 Telstra Premiership.

Hampstead?s main rival, Steve Clark, all but cost himself an Origin position last weekend when he produced a controversial performance in the Parramatta v Melbourne match at Parramatta Stadium. While Melbourne were the better side, Clark failed to make several crucial calls that could have turned the tide of the game.

Clark will this weekend referee the match between North Queensland and Penrith at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Paul Simpkins was seen as Hampstead?s other major rival and regarded by some as the favourite to claim the role, but in the end Hampstead did enough to prove his worth to the people that matter.

Simpkins will act as stand-by referee for the match.

Touch judges for next Wednesday night?s match are Steve Carrall and Steve Chiddy while Graeme West and Steve Clark will act as video referees.