League: Nod for English ref baffles Sheens

Tim Sheens. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Sheens. Photo / Getty Images

Australian coach Tim Sheens has expressed concern over the appointment of English referee Steve Ganson for this weekend's Four Nations clash against England after the veteran whistleblower produced a poor performance in the Kangaroos' 20-20 draw with New Zealand.

Ganson came up with several baffling calls and nine first-half penalties against New Zealand at The Stoop in London yesterday, but the lack of a suitable neutral referee means he will again be in charge when the hosts attempt to qualify for the final against Australia.

New Zealand and France have both provided referees for the tournament but neither are deemed to be up to the standard required to officiate in a test match, leaving only Ganson and Australian representative Shayne Hayne available to control the Australia-England clash.

English officials won out with their man getting the nod, with his interpretations sure to favour the home side given all but one of their players play in the Super League competition in which he officiates.

Sheens admitted his side struggled with some of Ganson's interpretations but refused to criticise his performance until he had reviewed the game, though he was baffled when told Ganson had been pencilled in to control the Test against England.

"That's news to me," said Sheens, with his concern more that his side would get Ganson two weeks in a row than any perceived favouritism.

"Hopefully we'll understand him a little better next week.

"I knew there was an issue that we might get an English referee in that game because there's only two professional referees in the comp - one's Ganson and the other one is Hayne from us - the others are amateur referees.

"We were going to get Hayne or Ganson and as Geoff [ARL chief executive Geoff Carr] said, we lost the toss."

Carr denied the appointment would hinder the Australians, saying a decision was made some years ago to go with the best referee for matches if a suitable option from a neutral country was not available.

It is believed the decision to go for the "best available" stemmed from Australia's anger at New Zealand referee Glen Black being handed an Australia-Britain game in the 2004 Tri-Nations, with the whistleblower from New Zealand's local competition struggling to keep up with the pace of the game.

"The issue that we had with referees that aren't fulltime referees is that it's a bit like amateur Andy - they're not up to it," Carr said.

"We were always going to get the English referee [against New Zealand] and next week it was either going to be Shayne Hayne or Ganson and at the end of the day it's Ganson."

- AAP

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