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Sione Katoa scores against Canberra.

Andrew Johns believes the "constant chatter" in the ears of on-field officials is having a negative effect on refereeing standards, in the wake of the controversial Sione Katoa try.

The eighth Immortal said on The Sunday Footy Show that he believed referees were being over-coached and fellow former halfback great Peter Sterling agreed.

The NRL Bunker and the head of referees, Bernard Sutton, have been heavily criticised for Friday night's decision to award Katoa a try after touch judge Rick MacFarlane raised his flag in the lead-up to the Cronulla winger putting the ball down at a crucial stage of their win over Canberra.

Raiders players protested as Katoa crossed the try line and coach Ricky Stuart in his post-match press conference claimed the Bunker was "ruining the game".

Sutton apologised to the Raiders on Saturday, admitting the Katoa decision was incorrect and a later try to Brad Abbey, which was disallowed due to a forward pass, was also wrong.

It comes less than a week after Sutton was forced to admit the Bunker erred in allowing a try to Roosters rookie Sean O'Sullivan in their win over the Gold Coast.

Stuart livid over controversial try decision

"I'm blaming the direction they're given and who's coaching the referees," Johns said.

"It's the constant chatter in their ear … touch judges. All game they're talking to them.

"During breaks of play, you've got the coach up in the box constantly talking to them about balance and about how they're refereeing, who's offside.

Katoa crosses after knock-on confusion

"Unfortunately for the referees, they have no feel for the game at the moment because of the directions they're given. They've lost all confidence."

Johns called for a radical solution of playing a Telstra Premiership round without the Bunker with in-goal touch judges re-introduced.

The Newcastle legend also believes former referees' boss Bill Harrigan should return to help.

"The best referee I've ever seen, he has a feel for the game, he would put the responsibility back on the referees," Johns said.

Sterling said the referees were suffering from "paralysis by analysis".

"We will send something upstairs for a particular concern in the lead-up but then we will look at eight other things.

"We'll look at the play-the-ball, we'll look at a knock-on here, possible knock-on here, but we have go back and have a look at every bit of play."

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