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Give referees a break – Phil Clarke

Super League referees

Sky Sports’ pundit Phil Clarke has defended Super League match officials after a flurry of criticism in recent weeks.

Leigh owner Derek Beaumont said refereeing decisions were making Super League a “joke shop” after his sides defeat against Castleford at the end of May.

However, former Great Britain International Clarke turned the attention on the discipline of Super League teams rather than the performance of the referee.

“Well, I think they’re as good as they can possibly be,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the biggest problem that the game has. The sport has much bigger problems, in my opinion, than the quality of the refereeing.

“I watched the State of Origin game and, in the first 40 minutes, the ball was dropped once. Last week, Leeds played Leigh and there were 28 handling errors in the game.”

Despite the unpredictability of Super League in 2017, the lack of quality has been noticeable with Clarke pinpointing this, rather than the level of officiating, for the stop-start nature of many matches.

“There are many stoppages in our game,” he said. “There were 25 penalties in the game between Leeds and Leigh last week and I wonder ‘is that the referee being too picky?’ in comparison to the State of Origin match which had six penalties.

“I don’t think he is. I think sometimes the players are more to blame than the referee for the quality of the play and the quality of the action.

“Putting your hand on the ball to slow it down, doesn’t seem to be accepted in Australia anymore but it is still done by some players over here and I think they (the players) need to move on and say ‘listen, it’s our job to make sure we don’t do that’.”

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