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Gavin Badger, a product of the South Sydney District, makes his long awaited return to NRL Refereeing this weekend when he will control the Newcastle and South Sydney clash at Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle. This will be Gavin?s first NRL fixture since Round 16 where he was in the middle when New Zealand obliviated Souths 66-0 in record fashion. Badger replaces young Ben Cummins, who has been dropped to running as a touch judge on Friday Night, because of not using the video referee when needed over the past couple of weeks.
Shayne Hayne also returns to the middle this weekend after a week off when he will control the all important clash between the Tigers and Eels. Hayne, who was in charge of the Bulldogs? golden point victory of the Warriors, will be looking to continue his good form with the whistle as we lead in to the time when referees push for Semi Final positions.
Jarred Maxwell has been rewarded for a good performance when in charge of the Rabbitohs and Sea Eagles fixture on Saturday night, and will be returning to Telstra Stadium to be in charge of the always fiery Bulldogs-Roosters encounter.
Steve Clark will once again take the number one referee position in to round 20 when he will referee Friday night footy down in Melbourne between the Storm and the Sharks. Clark, who had a sound game when in charge of the Bulldogs-Dragons match, is the front runner to replace retired Tim Mander as the Grand Final referee.
One of the men closely behind Clark in the race for the Grand Final position, Paul Simpkins, will be the man with the whistle when the Dragons travel down to the Nation?s Capital, to take on the Canberra Raiders. Simpkins, who is a member of the South Sydney District, was the frontrunner for the Grand Final last year before wasting it on a bad call in the Storm v Cowboys Semi Final.
Tony Archer will be in charge of the all Queensland fixture when the Cowboys are at home to the Broncos this Saturday night in Townsville. Archer, who refereed his first finals match last year in Wollongong between the Dragons and Sharks, will be looking to have a sound game to improve his chances of an appearance once again in the finals.
Jason Robinson, who was a junior referee in the Penrith District, will travel to Brookvale Oval on Sunday afternoon, where he will be the man in the middle for Manly?s first home match in three weeks when they take on the Penrith Panthers. Robinson has held his position for the last three weeks in First Grade although talented referees Tony De Las Heras and Gavin Badger have been pushing for his spot.
Former State of Origin referee Sean Hampstead will have a week off this weekend after crossing the Tasman for the Warriors-Eels match. Hampstead who did not appear in the Finals last year, will be looking to repeat his good form of the first half of the season, which earned himself an Origin appearance.