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3 days ago
The National Rugby League referees have drawn a line in the sand and will be punishing any players who cross it as the clampdown begins on intimidation of match officials.
Referees boss Peter Louis said the whistleblowers met on Tuesday and discussed the need to punish players after a spate of incidents in recent weeks.
Brisbane halfback Allan Langer and Northern Eagles fullback Brendon Reeves were the latest players to test the referees, with both sin-binned at the weekend.
Langer's crime was to call Matt Cecchin a "dumbo" while Reeves broke the golden rule - touching referee Shayne Hayne - and was dismissed for ten minutes.
Louis warned a similar punishment, or worse, was waiting for players if they continued to try to intimidate the referees.
"It's been intimidation more than anything else," Louis said.
"We spoke as a group that we won't accept this sort of stuff.
"We need referees to be strong out there. We've drawn a line (in the sand).
"Both (Cecchin and Hayne) were less experienced referees...and I thought they handled it appropriately.
"I think they did a good job."
There are no intentions at this stage to notify the clubs of the clampdown, but NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said the referees had the full support of the league.
"These matters are on-field and obviously the referees have it within their power to deal with this on the field," Annesley said.
"We support any action the referees take."
Louis said the referees had no desire to stop captains asking questions, as long as it was done in the appropriate manner.
Both Cronulla captain David Peachey and Parramatta's Nathan Cayless have sailed close to the wind in recent weeks after verbal altercations with the referees.
Peachey apologised after giving Hayne a halftime spray two weeks ago while Cayless was given a warning by leading referee Bill Harrigan on Friday night.
"I don't want to dissuade captains coming up and asking questions as long as it's done in the appropriate manner," Louis said.
"I think Bill handled Nathan Cayless well. He gave the player an out.
"That's probably the experience of Bill coming out. I certainly think that Nathan would think next time."
Meanwhile, Harrigan is expected to be appointed to the third State of Origin game with the full support of the Queensland and NSW camps.
The Queensland Rugby League tried to block the game's No.1 whistleblower from taking control of the second game, but Harrigan was appointed on the deciding vote of Australian Rugby League chairman Colin Love.