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It has been a long season for the Referee?s in season 2006, and here at LeagueUnlimited and Referee?s Report, we have made a list of awards for what has been an up and down season.
Referee of the Year Award: Steve Clark ? While sometimes being inconsistent and sometimes making the wrong calls, he has been the standout for this season. Two origins show this and leading in to the semi finals he is in line to take out his first ever Grand Final.
The What Happened Award: Paul Simpkins ? While Paul has been up there as one of the best this season, we can expect more of him. Although he was out for a couple of months after a calf strain in round six, he made a slow comeback from injury. When returning for the Tigers and Souths match in round 12, he took too long to return to his normal good performances. However he is now well positioned to hit form at the right time of the season.
The Most Improved Award: Shayne Hayne ? Just a year and a half ago, Shayne Hayne was doing Premier League and some NRL touchlines. Now in September of 2006, Shayne has been given his first ever Finals fixture. It has been a great season for Shayne, which has involved a fair few Friday night matches. Next year he should be hoping for a top two finish.
The Rookie of the Year Award: Ben Cummins ? There have been a fair few referees blooded in to First Grade this season. Last year Ben was awarded the SG Ball Grand Final and now the Canberra Junior has a handful of First Grade matches to go with it. He is one to watch in the future.
The One to Look Out For Award: Tony De Las Heras ? He has had two proper First Grade matches and one half a match as a replacement, but Dapto junior Tony De Las Heras is one of the referees to watch in 2007 and beyond.
Now on to the appointments for the first week of the 2006 playoffs:
Sean Hampstead receives his first start in a semi final since 2004 when he did the First Qualifying Final between the Panthers and Dragons. Hampstead has been given the match of the round at Energy Australia Stadium between the Knights and Sea Eagles which, last time these two sides met in round 23, was amid controversy when Knights captain Andrew Johns lashed out at touch judge Matt Cecchin with a number of four letter words. The touch judges will be Steve Carrall and Rod Lawrence.
Paul Simpkins receives yet another semi final when the Broncos are at home to the Dragons on Saturday night. In 2004 Simpkins had first and eighth placed in week one of the playoffs between the Roosters and Raiders, while in 2005 he had the Tigers and Cowboys? week one clash being the fourth and fifth placed teams. The touch judges will be Paul Holland and Matt Cecchin.
It is a memorable moment for Shayne Hayne who has been given his first start in an NRL Finals match. He will be at the helm of the Bulldogs and Raiders match at Telstra Stadium on Saturday night. Hayne just beat fellow referee Tony Archer to the fourth and final refereeing position in the upcoming finals series. Shayne?s touch judges will be David Abood and Steve Chiddy.
The last man to be named is number one referee Steve Clark, who will be down in Melbourne as the minor premiers take on the eighth placed Parramatta Eels. The last time Clark did an Eels match was when Parramatta heavily defeated the Dragons back in round 22, while the last time he officiated in a Storm match was in round 20 as Melbourne were too strong for the visiting Sharks. The touch judges will be Russell Turner and Michael Jones.