Just a week after coming under fire from Kiwi fans for “cheating” the Warriors, NRL referee Todd Smith has been suspended for controversial calls made during his most recent game.
Smith sent off Brisbane Bronco’s forward Patrick Carrigan for a supposed hip-drop tackle with twenty minutes to go in a tied game. Brisbane would go on to lose the game against the Melbourne Storm, and Carrigan received no further penalty from the review committee.
Graham Annesley, the NRL’s head of football, said that Smith should have awarded a try to the Storm (Smith disallowed it as he judged there was a knock-on) and should NOT have awarded a try to the Broncos (instead an interference penalty should have been called).
Annesley said at his weekly press briefing the game was a tough one to officiate, but ultimately the reffing was not good enough.
"It played at an incredible intensity and with a great deal of physicality,” he said of the match. “And when you get those sort of games and every single play is contested, you tend to find that there are 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 will not be the lead referee for any games this week, but will still be a touch judge and stand-in ref for Cronulla’s match against Newcastle on Thursday night. Gerard Sutton, who was Smith’s bunker official for the Brisbane game, has also been punished with a ban from the bunker for one week. He will instead serve as an on-field ref for Canberra vs Manly on Sunday.
Todd came under widespread scrutiny from Warriors fans after reffing the team’s match against Penrith a couple of weeks ago. One NZ’s CEO was watching the game and went on a Twitter rant where he called the NRL refs “biased”, adding that he reckons it was “cheating of the highest order”.
It's important to note: The NRL isn't saying Todd was cheating, just that he's not as good as they want him to be.