Klein set to cut teeth in youth comp - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Klein set to cut teeth in youth comp

By Steve Jancetic 26/01/2009 03:13:00 PM Comments (0)

Controversial World Cup final referee Ashley Klein won't be given an armchair ride into the NRL this season with the returning expat set to be shunted to the national youth competition for the opening weekend.

Trumpeted last week as the NRL's most decorated whistleblowing recruit, Klein is unlikely to be spared a stint in the lower grades as he becomes accustomed to the experimental two-referee system being introduced to the NRL in 2009.

"He offers us some experience but he's done no two-referee stuff at all, so he's a fair way behind the eight-ball," NRL referees' boss Robert Finch said.

"He may grasp it very quickly - I won't pre-empt anything but he's a long way behind.

"We'll be working hard to get him into the NRL but this is a new concept for him and we've been into this stuff since November and prior to that we trialled it last year - the majority of the squad we have now are pretty okay with it."

Asked if Klein was any chance of being in the middle for the opening round on March 13, Finch said:

"He'd have to show a remarkable feel for two referees for him to be able to do that."

Klein, who last week announced he was returning to his country of birth with his wife and two children, is a former international referee of the year and has controlled three Super League grand finals.

But it was at last year's World Cup that Klein rose to prominence in Australia, most notably for his handling of the tournament final in which New Zealand upset the Kangaroos.

Australian coach Ricky Stuart was so incensed of Klein's performance that he verbally abused the referee in the foyer of a Brisbane hotel the morning after the match, the outburst eventually costing the Test coach his job.

Now the two are set to come together again, but it won't be at this week's conference between the coaches and referees with Klein not set to arrive in Australia until Thursday.

Finch said the two-referee system would be high on the agenda when he meets with the coaches, with rule interpretations and the use of the video referee also to be discussed.

"I've put together a DVD for the coaches to give them an idea of the positions (of the referees) in set starts and what happens on turnovers of possession, where they are and what they do," Finch said.

"It just gives them a feel for it rather than going in blind."

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