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Former top referee Bill Harrigan ‘all for one referee’

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A proposal to return to a single-referee system has divided NRL coaches, players and fans, but one of the dual system’s originators is backing the plan.

The Project Apollo innovations committee has decided to return to a single-referee system for the first time in more than a decade.

The move is predominantly a cost-saving measure, but the NRL argues it’s also what the fans have been asking for.

Former top referee Bill Harrigan was one of the figures instrumental in the transition to a two-referee system back in 2009.

He told Mark Levy and Billy Slater it was originally implemented to reduce fatigue on a solo referee, but the second referee’s role has diverged significantly in the years since.

“[They] have the referee running up behind the ruck, yelling at the players to get out, getting in the way, and when you do that it actually puts you under more fatigue.

“The one thing that really bugs you when you’re out there refereeing as two, is if you’ve got a real feel for the game … and then your partner blows a penalty for something you would’ve read differently and let the game flow … you think ‘we just lost all that momentum’.

“I’m all for one referee.”

Billy also backs the proposal, telling Mark despite referees being “concerned and rightfully so” over job losses, the new system would get rid of “second-guessing”.

“I think it’s a good thing for the game … it’ll eliminate the inconsistencies within the game.”

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Image: Getty