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The National Rugby League has today advised of a leadership restructure for NRL refereeing which will see co-coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper leave their positions.

The appointment of a new NRL Referees Elite Performance Manager will be made in coming weeks and will lead in turn to a restructuring of other senior positions.

Former Test referee Russell Smith will assume the role of Interim Manager of the NRL Referees Department and will assist the NRL General Manager of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk, in finalising the make-up of the 2013 squad.

Australian Rugby League Commission Interim Chief Executive, Mr Shane Mattiske, today thanked Bill and Stuart for their significant contribution to the squad and for the effort they had devoted to their positions:

“Bill has made an incredible contribution to refereeing in a career that will forever stand out in the game’s record books.

“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.”

General Manager of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk, said that the restructured leadership team was seen as an important step forward:

“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.

“I certainly wish to thank them for the contribution they have made.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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