Love them or loathe them, without referees, there would be no game of rugby league.
Of course, criticism of officials often comes with the territory, but every so often, a referee has a game that makes the sport’s fraternity stand up and take notice.
Here are the five best Super League referees at present.
1. Liam Moore
25-year-old Liam Moore took charge of his first Challenge Cup Final in 2020 having enjoyed a rapid rise to the top of the referees system. He has the greatest control and rapport of the players and whenever Moore is in the middle, it tends to be a lot more free-flowing. It would be a shame if he isn’t given the reins of a major final again in 2021 because his performances with the whistle are becoming more impressive by the game.
2. Chris Kendall
There is perhaps one main criticism spouted about Chris Kendall on social media and that’s his persistence with going to the video referee for tries that perhaps don’t need them. However, his overall control and decision-making rank up there with the best and he always enjoys good relationships with the players. No wonder, therefore, Kendall was handed the Grand Final last season.
3. Ben Thaler
Perhaps the most vocal referee is Ben Thaler; the only trouble is, he tends to be quite whistle-happy. That being said, Thaler commands games well and takes absolutely no nonsense whatsoever. His instructions and actions are clear and obvious and explains things thoroughly to players, and does so when explaining decisions on the big screen.
4. Robert Hicks
Sometimes pedantic, Robert Hicks is the refereeing world’s hairiest man. Lockdown certainly did something to Hicks, with his facial hair resembling more of a caveman. Often labelled whistle-happy by the rugby league fraternity, he is able to control games fairly well and explains decisions extremely well to players.
5. James Child
The 2017 Grand Final referee, James Child has been part of the elite refereeing system since 2009, and his experience shows. His vocality with players is up there with the best, even if his decision-making does sometimes rankle fans. Child is also an impeccable touch judge.