EXPERIENCE COUNTS: Referee Chris James in action during an NRL game.
EXPERIENCE COUNTS: Referee Chris James in action during an NRL game. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

NRL referee on board to develop Group 2 contingent

RUGBY LEAGUE: Group 2 has employed some big support for the association's pink shirts this season, with experienced former NRL referee Chris James coming on board to help grow the local contingent.

James, who refereed more than 280 NRL first grade games, was at the recent Group 2 summit where club delegates met with referees to form closer bonds and open communication lines.

The summit came as a result of players and coaches publicly hitting out at officials for not keeping enough control during games last season.

Chief administration officer Jim Anderson said the day provided a perfect opportunity to get all stakeholders on the same page ahead of the season.

"Everyone had their chance to say what they were thinking, and it gave us a good chance to work out some key issues that we want referees to target this season,” Anderson said.

"The one punch attacks will be gone, the head high tackles will be gone. We want to get these acts out of our game, and players will be punished accordingly.”

The Group 2 referee ranks have been given a major injection for 2018 with past official Julian Holbot returning to the game as well as two new referees coming on board.

James will use his experience at the top end of the sport to help develop and mentor the Group 2 officials, and could be a chance to pick up a few of the bigger games through the year.

James is working with NRL club Sydney Roosters in a coaching capacity, but will have the opportunity to head north when the Roosters play Thursday night matches.

"He even seems interested in watching some of the lower grade referees in action to help them,” Anderson said. "This is a great result for us, it just shows we need to go out and do it all ourselves.”

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