Patten to make history in Grand Final
Former Bulldogs fullback Luke 'The General' Patten will become the first ex-player from the NRL era to officiate in a first grade grand final when he takes his seat in the video referees booth for Sunday evening's blockbuster between the Roosters and Sea Eagles.
Premiership winner Patten, who played 224 games for Canterbury before leaving at the end of the 2010 season for a two-year stint in the UK Super League, joined the NRL's match official this year.
His level-headed performances have earned him solid recognition within the ranks of Daniel Anderson's band of referees, culminating in his appointment for Sunday's decider.
Patten told NRL.com he was excited to be selected for the milestone match, where he will be paired with international-credentialed referee Ashley Klein.
"It's very cool – I was happy just to do some NRL and maybe a finals match this year but I've had a pretty good season and they [NRL refs bosses] have shown good faith in me," he said.
Patten said the transition from player to official had given him a different perspective on the importance of officialdom.
"Definitely; I was always brought up to respect the decision of the referee, don't argue and accept that a decision is final but this has opened my eyes in a different way to what is a very important part of the game."
He said he had no doubt more former players would be putting up their hands to join the NRL's refereeing ranks in the near future.
"When I first announced that I was going to become a referee I remember a few of the guys thought it was a bit weird, but there were others who were getting near the end of their careers that showed a bit of interest in the idea.
"It's a new career path and I have no doubt in the future we'll see more former players stepping up – and that can only be good for the game."
Patten follows in the footsteps of former Western Suburbs and Kangaroos halfback Keith Holman, who went on to referee at first grade and international level when his playing career finished in 1958.
Also, former Roosters fullback Luke Philips officiated in the 2009 Under-20s Grand Final, while the NRL also currently boasts ex-players Henry Perenara and Reece Williams within its ranks.