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The hardest thing to being a referee is not the ability to possess a thick skin. It isn?t the fitness levels which have to be of a premium standard nowadays. It is actually the ability to be consistent. Now every referee tries to lay the law down equally to all teams and to all situations. In a perfect world, that is what we would want to happen. However, with a litany of camera?s and a ready pool of journalists and players to pound some criticism if the referee doesn?t get it right, it makes the referee?s job a lot harder.
Now let?s look at this from the referee?s angle. You are out in the middle and you have 26 players barking orders at each other. Your job is then made that much harder by having to keep the defence back their 10, whilst keeping an eye on the play the ball and making sure the markers don?t leave too early. On top of that, there is the crowd yelling at you to put your glasses on and offering advice to get a German Shepherd as a Seeing Eye dog. So with all that heaped on the referee, he is expected to make all the correct calls.
But he doesn?t do that all the time. The coaches often get fines levelled out for criticism dished out at the whistle blowers. The most important element for a referee is his control. If he maintains good control, has the respect of the players under him, then regardless if he makes a wrong call, it won?t be so bad in the long run. If he keeps good control, he has confidence. That is what makes a good referee.
Best referee in the competition. Uses his job as a policeman to assert authority. Allows the game to flow, has good communication, and does not take flak. Averages 8-13 penalties per game.
Has controlled 3 Origin matches, 4 Tests and a World Club Challenge.
Weaknesses: Can be prone to lapses in concentration.
Like Hampstead, he is a policeman which he uses to assert control. He has a good hard whistle, good communication skills and he too likes the game to flow. Averages 10-14 penalties per game.
Weaknesses: Lateral vision is questionable.
3. Steve Clark
Most experienced referee running around. Is a full time referee and has been notorious for his hammering of players who back chat. Has gone downhill in recent seasons but still is among the best. Averages 9-14 penalties per game.
Has controlled 4 Origins and 5 Tests.
Been around for a season and bit now. Started off well but his form has slid in recent times. He possesses good mobility, has a strong whistle and gets on well with players. Averages 12-15 penalties per game.
Weaknesses: Can sometimes be overawed by a big occasion. His voice is also sometimes inaudible in big stadiums.
5. Ben Cummins
Has just come into first grade this season. Is young, agile and he is indeed one to keep an eye on in years to come. Has a good temperament and is very confident in his calls. He seems destined for Origin honours. So far averages 7-10 penalties per game.
Weaknesses: His strength can also be his weakness. The fact he has officiated in a handful of games can mean that players may try and push the envelope further with him than a more experienced ref. Still wet behind the ears.
6. Gavin Badger
Has established himself as a genuine first grade referee this season. Has a good strong whistle and can definitely move around easily. Averages 13-15 penalties a game.
Weaknesses: Can get lost in the line. His positioning is sometimes detrimental to his efforts. Can be swayed by the home town crowd, and be a little whistle happy at times.
7. Tony Archer
Is a prosecutor in his weekly life and he uses that to get his point across on the field. Is confident in himself and can put that across to the players. Averages 12-14 penalties per game.
Weaknesses: His whistle is extremely poor. A first year Under 6?s referee has a better whistle. This can lead to some confusion on the field as to the nature of the calls. Can be ambiguous with the way he communicates on the field.
8. Shayne Hayne
He likes to let the game flow. Was once touted as a ?Bill Harrigan-esque? referee. Brought his penalty count down in recent seasons. Averages 14-16 penalties per game.
Weaknesses: He is not 100% confident in his game at times and it shows. He takes too much interest in what other referees are doing. In my opinion is better as a touch judge. In fact he has ran two consecutive touch lines in Grand Finals in 2001-2002.
9. Russell Smith
Widely respected referee from the Old Dart. Made his way to Australia last season for originally 5 games but decided to stay, much to his love for Australia and his experience with the game. Averages 20+ penalties a game.
Weaknesses: Is VERY whistle happy. Goes to the video referee too often. His whistle technique isn?t too good either. Has slipped this season and has lost his place to younger referees. Has got back in first grade but isn?t up to the standard of the Australian game.
10. Jarred Maxwell
Has made a handful of appearances this season. Has ran several lines as a touch judge. Is young and agile and can make his mark on the game with a bucketload of work. Averages 13-15 penalties per game.
Weaknesses: His appearances in the top flight this season were not consecutive. He lacks confidence and can be taken in by the crowd.