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Strike action will turn fans against NRL referees, warns Harrigan

On Tuesday, the referees union will enter another round of conciliation talks with the NRL after filing a complaint with the Fair Work Commission over the game’s return to a one-ref system. 

Harrigan said if the referees turned their backs on the game in protest, it would have long-term consequences.

“Everybody wants the game up and running and they’re all counting down, 10 days, 9 days to go,” Harrigan said.

NRL referees are furious about reverting to one on-field official.

NRL referees are furious about reverting to one on-field official.Credit:AAP

Harrigan has long been a supporter of the return to the one-referee system. He said having one person in charge creates consistency throughout the match.

On Wednesday, the ARLC agreed to return to one on-field referee and introduce six more tackles instead of a penalty for ruck infringements.

Harrigan said bringing in low-level referees to implement the new rules during a strike would have a huge effect on results.

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“If that is what had to happen to get the game back up and running, that’s what you’d have to do,” Harrigan said. “But if you look at the NFL, a couple of seasons ago they did exactly that and a lot of the supporters weren’t happy with the officials and the ability of the officials.

“But it still got the competition going, and then they got sorted out. So I think you only ever use strike action as a dead-set last resort.”

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