Cameron Smith calls out Ashley Klein detail that ruined Queensland in State of Origin 2

The Maroons legend has come down hard on the NRL over a particular rule.

NRL great Cameron Smith has singled out Ashley Klein during State of Origin Game 2 for his repeated set restarts awarded to the Blues as the debate around the controversial rule divides fans. Supporters have become increasingly frustrated with NRL referees handing out repeated set restarts in recent weeks.

Restarted sets are up 25 per cent in 2024 with the rule aimed at speeding up the game for viewers, which will ultimately result in a higher scoring game. However, fans, players and coaches have become frustrated at the implementation of the rule and are seeking change from the NRL.

Daly Cherry-Evans talks to the referee and Cameron Smith during commentary.
Maroons legend Cameron Smith (pictured right) has singled out State of Origin Game 2 for the lack of understanding around repeated set restarts, which he claimed favoured the Blues. (Getty Images)

Cowboys fans felt their team was hard done by against the Panthers on the weekend when the infringement count was heavily against them in the first half. And one of the biggest frustrations for Queensland fans during State of Origin Game 2 was the number of set restarts in the first few moments.

The Blues obliterated the Maroons in Game 2 having led 34-0 at half-time. But some fans became angered when Klein handed the Blues a number of early six agains in the first few minutes, which ultimately had the Maroons on the back foot.

And Maroons legend Smith has called for the six again rule to be removed from the game. He used Origin Game 2 as an example having claimed the Maroons were tired towards the backend of the half because they were defending for too long. He added the referee hands out a set restart to a team, but viewers are left guessing what it was for as play continues.

“I don’t particularly like them if I’m being honest,” Smith told SEN Radio. “Set restarts are all up to the interpretation of the referees.

"The consecutive set restarts that referee Ashley Klein gave in State of Origin Game 2, if they didn’t have a direct defensive impact in that moment (to Queensland) then they will impact down the track. Queensland were forced to make an interchange because of the sheer amount of work they were made to do.

“They had 15 consecutive tackles on their own try line and no one knows (what the penalty is for) so there’s no accountability for the referee. You can’t tell me that in Game II where there’s a ruck infringement or slow play the ball ruled by the ref in the first 15 minutes that there’s something similar that they let go after 60 minutes. It’s so crucial with the timings of when the refs give the set restart.

Cameron Smith during commentary.
Cameron Smith (pictured) has called for the six again rule to be scrapped.

Smith was adamant the six again rule needed to go, which would hopefully reduce the amount of infringements the referees call out. “We need to scrap them because then there’s an emphasis placed on refs giving a whistle on things that are blatant penalties," he added. “That way, everyone knows what is going on.”

Referee Ashley Klein speaking to the players.
Referee Ashley Klein (pictured) and the officiating in Game 2 has come under criticism.

While Smith called out the restarted sets in Game 2, Billy Slater blasted his Queensland players over their 'unacceptable' lack of discipline. While many pointed to the officiating in Game 2, Slater said the Maroons only had themselves to blame.

"I wish I had selective memory loss, but unfortunately it's stuck firmly in the memory ... it was a disappointing night for all us Queenslanders," he said on the Billy Slater podcast on Monday.


"We were beaten by a better side. NSW were a shade off being perfect. We had 30 per cent of the ball and they had 70 and that's something that we really need to look at. We were 6-0 down on the penalty count and that's just not acceptable. It's hard to get over that first half, but if you're looking for a positive, the second half the guys rallied and hung in there and never gave up."

Following Canberra's 16-6 defeat to Melbourne on Saturday night, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart pointed out the extra defensive workload his team was forced to endure on the back of a series of six-again calls. He accused referees of making up calls on the run.

Following the weekend, one NRL club official told Yahoo Sport Australia: "The six-again rule will definitely be on the agenda when we review the season. Most rules in rugby league are fairly black and white but this one is very grey. There is absolutely no consistency because it's so subjective. It's frustrating fans, players and coaches alike."