NRL: Referee bosses Harrigan and Raper sacked

Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper have been dumped as NRL referees' co-coaches.

Rugby league's governing body, the ARL Commission, made the announcement on Friday, as the game seeks to move on from an NRL season littered with refereeing controversies.

Both Harrigan and Raper have been moved aside in what the ARL Commission described as "a leadership restructure for NRL refereeing''.

Former Test referee Russell Smith, who is not without officiating controversies himself, has assumed the role of interim manager of the NRL referees department.

Smith will assist the NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk in putting together the 2013 refereeing squad, the ARLC said.
The appointment of a new NRL referees' elite performance manager will be made in the coming weeks.

In a statement ARLC interim chief executive Shane Mattiske thanked Harrigan and Raper for their work.

"Bill has made an incredible contribution to refereeing in a career that will forever stand out in the game's record books,'' Mattiske said.

"He and Stuart have worked incredibly hard over the last two years in particular and there is a strong sense of gratitude on our part for their efforts, but we also believe that a new structure is needed.''

McGuirk said the restructured leadership team would be a step forward for the game.

"Bill and Stuart have been part of a dual coaching structure and it is time to move to a new model.

"Nobody could criticise their commitment but as we have reviewed the year from a number of perspectives it has become clear that we need one person to manage what is a high performance team.

"Bill and Stuart have increased the depth of talent in the squad and that has been one of the real positives over the last two years.''

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