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Roosters co-captain Jake Friend and Boyd Cordner.

Sydney Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner says his opposite Cameron Smith can talk as long as he likes and as often as he likes to the referees because the men with the whistles are professionals.

Smith received the first sin-bin of his career for back-chatting referee Matt Cecchin in Melbourne's round four loss to the Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium. He has been accused of be occupying the referees too long when trying to make his point on the field.

But facing Storm in Sunday's Telstra Premiership grand final, Cordner isn't concerned about Smith's wily ways when it comes to engaging the referee. The pair never met as State of Origin captains as Smith retired from rep football this season.

"That's fine. It's rugby league and the refs have the final say," Cordner told NRL.com.

"So I'm not sure he'll have too much effect on the refs' decisions and the way they think.

"Look he's done it his whole career and it's the way he goes about his business, but I'm not really too concerned about that at all.

"My full attention is on our playing group and the best way I can lead these boys."

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Gerard Sutton and Ashley Klein were appointed the senior and assistant referees, respectively, for Sunday's decider at ANZ Stadium.

"The last three years we've had really tight guidelines on when captains can speak to us. They can only talk to us at a stoppage in play and not at penalties," Sutton said,when asked if Smith ever over-stepped the line in his opinion.

"So I don't think Cameron speaks any more than any other captain, and we certainly give every player that's out there an equal amount of respect.

"Whether it's Cameron Smith, Jake Friend (Crodner's co-captain) or anyone else, if it's done in the right terms and at the right times, we have a respectful relationship."

Both Storm and the Roosters were the two best defensive teams in the NRL after the completion of 25 rounds. The Roosters had let in 361 points, the Storm 363 – at least 50 points clear of the other 14 clubs.

There is a perception they are also the two best sides at being able to slow down the ruck.

"I'm not a football expert as such on how to break down styles of play [of the two grand finalists]. But we make a judgment on who wins each tackle," Sutton said.

"So if the defence wins and they drive a guy back, they're entitled to a little more time.

"If the ball carrier wins the contest and sticks his nose through the line, creates momentum, we expect the defenders to get off quicker.

"Tackles that are neutral are given reasonable time. They are the parameters that we've used all season and that's what we'll be working off on Sunday."

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In the event Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk recovers from his shoulder injury in time, he will surely be a target for the Storm defenders.

"Contact can't be late, high or dangerous," Sutton said when asked about protecting kickers and playmakers.

"So the parameters don't change on that and we make our judgments on those three things."

What Sutton can't control is the public criticism of referees.

"It's part of the landscape. Does it impact on us? Probably not because we're clear in what we need to do. I guess over time it takes a toll on family, and kids and things," said Sutton, a father of four.

"I choose to be in this environment and I know what comes with that. But my kids didn't make that choice, yet they're the ones who have to go to school during the week and hear the comments there or on social media."

Cecchin told The Sydney Morning Herald in August, just ahead of his 300th game, that he was quitting the NRL refereeing ranks because of the abuse, including death threats.

"I can't speak for Matt personally but I certainly respect his decision," Sutton said.

"He was recognised for 20 years service [on Monday]. So that's a long time in the game and perhaps you get to a point where you achieve everything you've wanted to and you're not willing to put up with other stuff.

"For me personally it would be great if referees were held in higher esteem.

"But that's the landscape and the only way I can influence that is to my job to do the best of my ability and where possible be a decent representative for referees."

 

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