Off the Wall

Rugby league has got itself into the same mess international cricket has been in for some years by insisting on so-called "neutral" referees for international matches.

The credibility of cricket tests has taken an absolute hammering because the "neutral" umpires have made some truly dreadful decisions.

Rugby league is rapidly heading down the same disastrous path. It has probably been doing so for some years - but the current four nation's series in England and France is showing just how bad a policy it is.

Every referee is supposed to be "neutral". That means when Australia plays England in a test match it should not matter which country he comes from.

What has happened is that England's Steve Ganson not only refereed the Kangaroos v Kiwis match, but he lined up again yesterday for the match against Great Britain. Why? Because the New Zealand and French referees are apparently not up to the required standard. Had a Kiwi or French referee been up to standard he would have got the game.

Australia's referee on the four nation's panel, Shane Hayne, has been relegated to game's Australia is not involved in.

Shane Hayne is not the best referee in Australia, and that raises the question why our number one referee, Tony Archer, is not there. Perhaps the ARL knew he would not be given any significant games?

Ganson's performance in the first two games has been simply dreadful. That should not be surprising - at least he is consistent, it is just that he is consistently bad!

If a Kiwi or French referee was not up to the standard required for the Great Britain v Australia game, why wasn't it given to Hayne?

This nonsense about neutral referees should end. The best game should be controlled by the best referee.

For the best part of 70 years, when Great Britain, France and New Zealand played Australia in Australia they did so under Australian referees. If it was good enough for the era when test football enjoyed massive popularity, it should be good enough for today.

A small fortune is being spent trying to strengthen the international game. It will be wasted if test matches are spoilt by poor refereeing.

And let there be no doubt about it, on the last two weekends we have seen poor refereeing at its worst!

When the final is played in a couple of weeks time, the best referee should be in charge of it. And on any form measurement that means Shane Hayne should have the whistle.

And the ARL needs to lift its game and stop rolling over to England's dictates on refereeing. Apparently the ARL agreed that Ganson should control yesterday's game some weeks ago. The question is - did it put up any fight for Hayne?

Test cricket is really suffering because the game's administrators are obstinately insisting tests must be controlled by neutral umpires.

We are heading down the same path. The ARL bosses swanning themselves in England - and this week in Paris - need to show some gumption...and ensure that the four nations final is controlled by the best whistleblower on the panel.

If that happens then Shane Hayne is a shoe-in!