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Glaring errors put pressure on Origin referees

A series of glaring officiating errors could put the Origin roles of senior referees Gerard Sutton, Ashley Klein and Jared Maxwell in jeopardy as the NRL weighs up its appointments for next week's decider.

A "sloppy" weekend for the whistleblowers led to NRL head of elite football Graham Annesley conceding a series of incorrect calls were made by several officials, most notably lead Origin referee Sutton, his assistant Klein and senior review official Maxwell.

Sutton was in charge of Penrith's controversial 19-18 defeat of the Warriors while Maxwell was on duty for that game in the NRL Bunker.

Annesley admitted on Monday that Warriors winger David Fusitu'a had been wrongly awarded a try, Jahrome Luai was incorrectly sin-binned and Liam Martin was allowed to return 90 seconds early from his own 10-minute stint in the bin.

Klein also had a lamentable weekend, awarding a try as senior video referee to Cronulla's Shaun Johnson against Canterbury despite replays showing a knock-on in the lead-up by teammate Briton Nikora.

Newcastle fans were also aggrieved by Klein's control of a 14-7 penalty count against the Knights in their win over Brisbane 24 hours earlier.

Annesley and referees' boss Bernard Sutton will appoint the officials for Origin III on Tuesday, with no changes having been made throughout the series in 2019.

Annesley discusses key decisions from Round 15

Annesley stressed that both games one and two have been largely controversy free – despite growing concerns out of NSW camp over Queensland's wrestling and late hits – but did concede recent errors would be taken into account with Origin appointments.

"I can't say to you that any one of these decisions would mean that a particular official would or would not get an Origin nod," Annesley said.

"They all factor into consideration, but they don't necessarily determine the outcome in isolation.

"We have to look back at how they've performed in recent weeks and back throughout the season, and what's happened in Origin I and II.

"We had the same set of officials go into Origin I as we did in Origin II.

"Thankfully those games were relatively controversy-free and I think everyone wants to see next Wednesday night as controversy-free as possible."

Sutton was largely responsible for the decision to sin-bin Luai for what was deemed a professional foul on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who was found to have knocked on moments before.

From the resulting set Maxwell awarded a try to Fusitu'a despite replays showing the winger putting one hand into touch before grounding the ball with the other.

The timekeeping error, in which Martin returned to the field "90-100 seconds" ahead of time, book-ended 10 minutes of officiating drama, with Annesley stressing that mistake was a "human error" and not the fault of technology or rules in place.

Annesley reiterated that while review times from the Bunker have become quicker in 2019, officials have had no new edict aimed at speeding up decisions.

No one is trying to make errors and sometimes these things don't become completely clear until they're looked at in much more detail when there is no pressure on.

Graham Annesley

"In these cases there is no instruction to the video officials that they must react quickly, that they must react with only a certain number of replays," Annesley said.

"The most important thing is to get the decision right and they can look at it as many times as they want.

"There's no real answer I can give you about why they're missed. These decisions are made in pressure situations, human frailty just fails us.

"No one is trying to make errors and sometimes these things don't become completely clear until they're looked at in much more detail when there is no pressure on."

Annesley declined to comment on George Burgess's eye-gouging incident and whether the Rabbitohs forward should have been sin-binned or sent off as his case will go before the judiciary on Tuesday night.

A mid-season rule change last year gives officials the option of marching a player for 10 minutes over incidents of foul play, with Burgess potentially having to wait until finals to play again this year given a 10-week ban is on the cards due to his carry-over points and loading from previous eye-gouging charges.

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