Referee Gerard Sutton sends Jarome Luai to the sin bin. Picture: AAP
Referee Gerard Sutton sends Jarome Luai to the sin bin. Picture: AAP

Origin referee retained despite NRL horror show

DESPITE playing a part in one of the most poorly officiated matches of the season, Gerard Sutton has been retained as head referee for State of Origin game three.

Sutton, who also carried the whistle for Origin I and Origin II, will again be the top official despite numerous glaring errors in Penrith's win over New Zealand on Sunday.

He will be assisted by Ashley Klein.

On Monday, the governing body  revealed Penrith forward Liam Martin had returned from the sin bin up to 100 seconds too early during the Panthers' win over the Warriors.

The Panthers were down to 11 men when Jarome Luai joined Martin in the bin, only for the latter to come back earlier than he should have.

Referee Gerard Sutton has been retained for the State of Origin series decider. Picture: Getty Images
Referee Gerard Sutton has been retained for the State of Origin series decider. Picture: Getty Images

NRL head of football Graham Annesley admitted being unable to determine exactly how early Martin had returned, because of a lack of access to the sin bin clock.

"My best estimate is somewhere between 1.30 and 1.40 (minutes) that he returned to the field too early," Annesley said on Monday.

"It was not a system error. The technology was working perfectly. It was a human error where he was allowed to go on earlier.

"The ground manager became aware of the situation after he'd returned to the field (but) there was no action taken to bring him back off the field."

The incident book-ended a horror 10 minutes of decision-making, which included Luai being incorrectly sin-binned in the first place and the Warriors wrongly awarded a try soon after.

 

Annesley confirmed Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had committed a knock-on before Luai was ruled to have committed a professional foul.

Moments after Luai's dismissal, Warriors winger David Fusitu'a was awarded a try by the bunker despite replays showing his hand planted outside the field of play.

The senior review official for the NRL fixture was Jared Maxwell, who has also been retained in the bunker for the Origin decider.

"This is the biggest game of the year to date," NRL head of football elite competitions Graham Annesley said.

"We need our best and most experienced match officials in the company of the best and most experienced players.

"Both referees have officiated well through the series so far and they will bring consistency to the series, which will help both teams."