The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Sean Hampstead returns to the NRL this weekend from a week off to control the top of the table fixture between the Dragons and the Storm at OKI Jubilee Stadium. The last time Hampstead officiated at a Dragons encounter was his controversial outing to Kogarah where Eels halfback Jeremy Smith was hit with a contrary conduct charge for pushing him.
Shayne Hayne returns to Friday night football for the first time since Round 14 when the Sea Eagles just edged out the Tigers at Brookvale Oval. Hayne will be at the centre of an important match between two sides vying for the top eight, Cronulla at home to Newcastle.
Tony Archer, who had a sound performance last weekend up in Townsville during the Queensland derby, will head west to the foot of the Blue Mountains to referee the match at CUA Stadium between the Warriors and the Panthers. The Warriors? season is all but over but the Panthers can maintain a position in or around the eight with a victory.
Number one referee, Steven Clark, has been appointed to the clash at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday night between the Eels and the Sea Eagles, a rematch of last year?s 4th Qualifying Final. In the corresponding game earlier this year at the SCG, it was a Matt Orford field goal that got Manly home. Clark was also the referee for that match.
After three consecutive weeks refereeing the Foxtel Sunday afternoon delayed match, Jason Robinson will move to the Saturday night match between the Rabbitohs and the Raiders. The two sides met earlier this year in Round 13 when Souths were pipped at the post by two points down in Canberra, with David Peachey playing his first game for the club.
Paul Simpkins, who is still recovering from injuring his calf in Newcastle in Round 5, will travel to Brisbane for the rematch of the 2005 2nd Semi Final between Brisbane and the Wests Tigers. The two sides sit in much different positions than they did at that time as the Broncos are pushing for a top two finish while a loss for the Tigers on Sunday could be the end of their season.
Gavin Badger will referee for the second week in a row back in First Grade after having a short stint back in Premier League. The man who refereed the New South Wales vs. Queensland Residents match in State of Origin I will be the centre of attention when the Roosters are at home to a Cowboys side without Johnathan Thurston at Aussie Stadium on Sunday.