NRL drops referees after controversial round-11 game
The NRL has dropped referee Todd Smith and bunker official Gerard Sutton, who came under fire for a series of controversial calls in Melbourne's round-11 defeat of Brisbane.
Smith will not referee any games in round 12 but is touch judge and stand-by referee for Cronulla's match against Newcastle in Coffs Harbour on Saturday.
Veteran match official Sutton, who has refereed seven grand finals, will not appear in the bunker this weekend, also paying the price for Thursday night's game.
He has been selected as an on-field referee, though, set to preside over Canberra's clash with Manly on Sunday.
Smith and Sutton received criticism after Brisbane forward Patrick Carrigan was sent to the sin bin for an alleged hip-drop tackle at a critical point of the game, only to avoid sanction from the match review committee altogether the next day.
The NRL's head of football Graham Annesley also confirmed the referees should not have awarded a try to Brisbane's Corey Paix due to interference from teammate Tom Flegler.
Annesley conceded another wrong call was made when the referees chose not to award a try to Storm winger Xavier Coates for an apparent knock-on that in actuality came off the head of teammate Justin Olam.
Reece Walsh's shoulder-charge on Olam should have been penalised and was not, with the match review committee citing the Broncos fullback the next day.
"This was a game with so many tight incidents," Annesley said at his weekly briefing on Monday.
"It played at an incredible intensity and with a great deal of physicality. And when you get those sort of games and every single play is contested, you tend to find that there's a lot more decisions for officials to make.
"And in this particular case, we've had four or five of them that didn't quite meet the expected standard. That's disappointing."
Smith's relegation comes after he also received criticism from Jason Paris, CEO of the Warriors' major sponsor, for his officiating of the side's round-10 loss to Penrith.
Despite conceding he had made errors in the Broncos game, Annesley defended Smith who is one of the NRL's less experienced first-grade referees.
"Todd Smith has been one of our real shining lights over the last 12 to 18 months," Annesley said.
'A lot of the decisions that we've looked at also included the input of the bunker. We can't forget that either. They are a team of officials.
"There's a referee, there's two touch judges and a bunker. And the responsibility of all of those officials is to try and get these decisions right. These big decisions. And in this case, we've got a number of them that we believe were incorrect.
"Unfortunately that's taken place but we now have to review performances of everybody concerned."