Kiwi ref appointment illogical: Sheens - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwi ref appointment illogical: Sheens

By Steve Jancetic 12/11/2009 07:46:05 PM Comments (0)

The Australian camp has branded "illogical" the decision to appoint New Zealander Leon Williamson - a part-time referee - to control Saturday night's Four Nations final.

An embarrassing stalemate caused by the pigheadedness of officials from rugby league's three international powerhouses ended on Wednesday with Williamson - whose regular gig is controlling Auckland Vulcans games in the second-tier NSW Cup - handed the whistle for the code's Elland Road showpiece against England.

Australia's top NRL whistleblower Shayne Hayne - who on Monday night was adjudged the international referee of the year - and Englishman Steve Ganson - who has refereed Tri-Nations finals and Super League grand finals - were both overlooked.

"It's interesting that the biggest game in the tournament is refereed by the most inexperienced referee," Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens said.

"It just doesn't seem logical to me.

"I hope he has a good game ... we don't want to be talking about the referee after the game, we want to be talking about the best team winning the game."

The move to appoint Williamson seems to go against the directive reached by the Rugby League International Federation after the 2005 Tri-Nations tournament, when it was decided the best referees would control the biggest games regardless of nationality.

The process of selecting the match officials involved referees bosses from Australia, New Zealand and England all nominating their preferred candidate.

They all voted for their own referee, and it is believed England then sided with the Kiwis in going for Williamson with the understanding Australia would have preferred French referee Thierry Alibert, who at least controls Super League games.

Alibert will now be the reserve referee with Hayne joining English official Phil Bentham in the video referees box.

Of the politics involved in the selection of Williamson, Sheens said: "A few years ago they had trouble and they decided that they would use only professional referees.

"That hasn't happened now.

"I only say this hypothetically, but if it's an ordinary game, and the referee has a major bungle, then there's going to be an issue, isn't there?

"Let's hope he has a good game, and that the game is sorted out by the two teams."

Sheens denied the appointment of Williamson - who blew the pea out of the whistle in the first half of Australia's 42-4 win over France last Saturday - would affect his side's preparations for the match.

With less penalties blown the second half of that game, when the Kangaroos ran in 34 points, there is a case to be made that having Williamson in charge may be a good thing for the Aussies given they seemed to adjust to his style.

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