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Graham Annesley has backed State of Origin match officials to perform under immense scrutiny as Andrew Abdo defended Peter V'landys in response to player discontent about the high contact crackdown.

Annesley reiterated on Monday that no leniency will be afforded for high contact in next Wednesday's series opener, which has been moved to Townsville.

The NRL head of football expects the game's elite players to adjust their tackling targets so they don't risk putting their team at a disadvantage and said the referee – to be determined – will stick to their guns.

"There's pressure on the match officials every game, [but] there's no question there is additional pressure on representative games and finals matches," Annesley said.

"There are no special instructions going to the referees. Our very best match officials will be involved in Origin I, as they will be in II and III and the finals series.

Episode 14 - Origin I teams named, venue switched to Townsville

"This is where not only do the best players step up, but so do the best officials. And we've got a number of match officials that are in very good form."

While some players have voiced frustration about a lack of consultation about the crackdown – a small portion of the playing group, according to Abdo – Annesley has been happy with the referees' application of the edict.

He acknowledged that perfect consistency is all but impossible to achieve because every incident is different, but he explained how referees judge varying kinds of high shots.

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"Direct, forceful contact with the head or neck should result in at least a penalty and potentially a sin bin or potentially a send-off depending on the seriousness.  That goes without saying, I think that's obvious," Annesley said,

"Indirect, forceful contact with the head or neck should at least result in a penalty, a report and a sin bin. And direct or indirect minimal contact should at least be penalised and placed on report.

"I just wanted to make it very clear that there is some method to this. It's not a method that everyone will agree - in fact, there'll be divided opinion on all of these decisions and we see it regularly during broadcast.

"It's very easy to kind of just lump things together and say, 'Well, they're the same, they're both contact with the head, they're the same'. What I'm trying to show here is that they're not all the same and it would be unfair to categorise them all the same.

"My view is since Magic Round, when there's been an increased focus on this, I think the referees and the Bunker officials have largely got it right."

Manly coach Des Hasler was highly critical of referee Ben Cummins after the Sea Eagles' loss to Newcastle on Sunday and contacted Annesley to express his concerns.

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"Des and I have got a very good relationship. Des did call me last night not long after his media conference. We had a very amicable conversation as we always do," he said.

"He made some points, some of which I don't disgaree with. I felt he had some cause for complaint in the game. But then again most coaches do in some areas.

"Des has been around long enough to understand the game. And he has been around long enough to understand there are errors made by players and officials."

Annesley doesn't think there will be a spike in high contact for Origin and noted that Blues coach Brad Fittler has supported the game's tough stance on the matter.

Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 12

"If you think back over Origin series in recent years, probably the last decade, the games haven't had that degree of brutality," Annesley said.

"I mean, it's brutal in terms of the intensity of it. But we haven't seen foul play in Origin to any great extent and I don't see why this year would be any different."

The RLPA has indicated players want their views considered in greater detail before major decisions are made.

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Rugby League Players Association CEO Clint Newton said on Triple M that players were not pushing for V'landys to resign as ARL Commission chairman but they wanted to be included in decision making.

Abdo said he regularly meets with Newton to discuss player issues.

"Peter and I are incredibly accessible and we have an open-door policy and we speak to Clint regularly about a number of issues," the NRL CEO said.

"The players are incredibly important stakeholders in the game. There might be a few players that are feeling like they haven't had a voice; well, then we absolutely will sit down and talk to them.

"I said this to Clint a couple of weeks ago when he met with Peter and I - of course, we're always going to listen and, of course, we can always do things better.

"But Peter V'landys has been an unbelievable chairman for our game. The Commission has been united and Peter has led from the front.

"We got on the field before any other code [last year], we are fighting hard to restore the financial strength of the game in incredibly difficult circumstances.

"Last year, we demonstrated with strong leadership and strong vision everyone could come together to deliver something special and the players played their part in that, there's no question."

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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