Ed Jackson, AAP
NRL referees' coach Robert Finch has ended speculation over his future by confirming he is stepping down from the role.
Finch, a two-time premiership player and father of former NSW player Brett, has been in the position for eight years and says it's time to take on "new challenges".
"I have had the opportunity to consider the road ahead personally and have decided that as much as I love working with the referees and the clubs, I have reached the point where I need new challenges," Finch said in a statement on Wednesday.
"There are still plenty of things I want to do in my career and this is the time to explore some of those options."
News that Finch was considering stepping down from the role emerged in September after a difficult 2010 where referees found themselves involved in plenty of controversial decisions.
Finch will finish up after next week's Four Nations final between Australia and New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The NRL refused to speculate on who would replace Finch, though reports have suggested match review committee chairman Greg McCallum is the frontrunner.
Former referees Bill Harrigan - one of the officials to face criticism this year - and Steve Clark are also thought to be in the running for the position.
NRL chief executive David Gallop praised Finch's influence during his time in the role, which included the switch to full-time professionalism for officials and the introduction of the two-referee system.
"Being in charge of referees is a thankless task at times but anyone who looks back at Robert's contribution to refereeing can't fail to acknowledge the positive changes that he has driven in the game," Gallop said.
"Finchy's passion for the game and his experience in so many areas helped him drive the level of professionalism in refereeing to a new level and he is to be congratulated on that achievement."