TIM Mander told a Men of League luncheon on Tuesday that when he was a young referee back in 1991 and Wally Lewis was in his last year as a player, the King intimidated him.
And when asked whether he thought having two rookie referees in charge of Origin I was a wise move, Mander said he saw no issue. In fact the 292-NRL game referee welcomed the 'freshness' of two young blokes being in charge of the showpiece of our game.
Well, if Matt Cecchin and Ben Cummins are appointed to game two in Sydney on June 13, we will see whether they have been intimated by the nuclear-like fallout from Wednesday's Origin opener. Admittedly the Blues received the rough end of the pineapple, but the whingeing and excuse making from south of the border has been spoilt-child like.
Apart from the controversial Greg Inglis try and the sin-binning of Michael Jennings, other major whines included - the better team lost; Greg Bird should not have been pinged for his lifting tackle; Queensland's markers were rarely square; Queensland constantly encroached the 10 metres; the referees were bullied by Cameron Smith.
Impartiality is difficult at Origin time. The interstate series is built around passion and pride and it is impossible for those closely involved to hide their disappointment, or their exhilaration.
But in the wash up, Queensland won because it did exactly what it has done since Mal Meninga took over as coach seven years ago - remained patient, kept mistakes to a minimum and defended courageously.
Ricky Stuart has done a herculean job to lift the Blues to the standard they produced on Wednesday night, and skipper Paul Gallen produced another superhuman effort. But this is an exceptional Queensland team - arguably the best ever.
Players in mediocre form coming in to the game - Darius Boyd, Ash Harrison and David Shillington - lifted another gear. But then so did guys like Greg Bird, Jarryd Hayne, Robbie Farah and Michael Jennings for the Blues.
In an absorbing contest there was barely a split hair between the two sides, so maybe Stuart will finally adhere to his pick-and-stick policy for game two.
When Greg Inglis reneged on a deal with the Broncos for season 2011, the club signed an unknown named Jack Reed. Compared to what Inglis was to be paid, Reed received peanuts.
The rest is history. Inglis joined the Rabbitohs and at best had a fair season. In his debut year Reed was named Broncos rookie, played all 27 NRL games and represented his native England in the Four Nations.
Now it seems Souths are experiencing a similar quid-pro-quo. After losing halfback Chris Sandow to Parramatta for a speculated $½ million a season, the Rabbits decided to hand the reins to local rookie Adam Reynolds.
Not only is the 21-year-old steering Souths around the paddock brilliantly, he is goalkicking at 88% and last Sunday landed the golden-point field goal against the Dragons. He has been a revelation and no doubt Souths fans are asking 'Chris who?'
I absolutely hated the decision last weekend to rule against a Roosters try because of a perceived indiscretion in an earlier tackle by a defender. It was a case of the video referee going way beyond his bounds, and - for what it's worth now - referees' boss Bill Harrigan thought so too.
For the uninformed, the Roosters scored through Daniel Mortimer with 20 minutes to go, but the video ref ruled no try because the elbow of lock Brad Takairangi had come in contact with the jaw of Daniel Harrison as he off-loaded a pass. Takairangi was penalised and put on report, but was subsequently found to not have a case to answer by the match review committee.
Manly won by eight points, so technically the no-try ruling was inconsequential. But the decision was a stinker and hopefully all referees have learnt from the blunder.
What should happen in similar cases - where the evidence of foul play is flimsy - is that the infringing defender be placed on report and the issue dealt with post match.
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